Afthead Mardi Gras – Best Day Ever

I missed posting for a week.  Well, I can’t say I missed posting, because I was at Mardi Gras with my husband and my daughter.  Yes, we took our daughter to Mardi Gras, for the second time.  Now before you call child protective services and have her taken away from me, let me tell you, Mardi Gras isn’t how you are imagining it in your head.  We saw no boobs.  Yeah, we saw some drinking, some public affection, some R-rated costumes, but we didn’t see the stereotypical Mardi Gras.

If you have never been you should find a friend who grew up in New Orleans, or went to college in New Orleans, or lives in New Orleans and schedule a trip.  It is the closest thing to pure fun I have ever experienced.  It’s marching bands, and dance troops, and old guy dance troops, and floats.  The floats are like nothing you have ever experienced.  They are huge and satirical and filled with men and women throwing presents at you.  Yes they throw beads, but also stuffed animals, footballs, Frisbees, toys, hats, costumes and instruments.  There are little kids sitting safely in these awesome ladder seats.  There are bigger kids on their parents shoulders reaching right up to the float, and there are slightly bigger kids running after the float cheering, yelling and screaming, “Throw me something mister!” and normally the mister (or misses) throws something.

Mardi Gras ladder for little kids.
Mardi Gras ladder for little kids.

Yeah, the crap is made in China.  Yeah, the guys on the floats look a little like KKK members.  Yeah, there is a very obvious class separation.  While I can recognize those unsavory details today, when I am at the parade I just don’t care, because it is so much fun.  Do I really want that white feather boa my daughter begged for?  No, and neither does she.  It is itchy and sheds feathers.  But at that moment it was the best catch of the day.  It was glamorous and envied.  Right now I look at the giant beads hanging in my studio, and I marvel that a 40 year old woman (and her 42 year old friend) could have received such attention.  (I did not bear my breasts for them, thanks for wondering.)

At Mardi Gras we stood side by side with strangers and we had fun together.  A lady I’d never met and never saw again picked up a special bracelet thrown to me, because I had a 45 pound kid on my shoulders.  A family who had been holding their spot at Bacchus for ten hours welcomed us to their tent.  We caught beads for their kids and they gave us frosty cold beers.  We shook our heads together when the twenty year old threw up in their tent.  I laughed with the woman next to me when someone threw beads onto her outstretched arms.  She was dancing not asking for beads, but it was a great shot.  We had a spaghetti dinner at our friend’s church for $10 (which also gave us the use of their bathroom all night) and then they sold us $3 wine and beer to enjoy while watching the parade.  Having fun with strangers is even better than having fun with people you know.

There is magic at Mardi Gras.  We had a dragon breathe fire at us, causing a white out in our vision, but not burning us.  Our kids ran up to huge floats blind to their tiny frames and they didn’t get run over.  Doubloons are thrown, and those gold, red, purple and silver coins are more valuable to my 6-year-old than the real dollars the tooth fairy brings.  If I hold them now their clinking and glinting brings back the magic and the fun.

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