I know its THURSDAY and I have yet to post this week, and for that I am oh, so sorry. BUT! I have a great reason! I was in full-fledged Mardi Gras mode. It has been absolute madness here in my neck of the woods since Friday with all of the celebrations and parties and balls going on. For Mardi Gras is the most magical, most wonderful, most insane, most fun, most wonderful time of the year here in Louisiana (or maybe the world in general).
And although Mardi Gras day was Tuesday, technically, “Mardi Gras Season” has been going on in NOLA for a while now, with parades as early as the 1st weekend in January! WHAT?!
Yes. Mardi Gras is a HUGE deal in Louisiana, but definitely in New Orleans in general. The floats are bigger, the parties are crazier, the crowds are rowdier, and the atmosphere is absolutely electric.
I was staying the weekend with a friend who lives in Uptown New Orleans. If you’re not familiar with New Orleans, that means I wasn’t anywhere near the French quarter or the
infamous Bourbon Street. My first Mardi Gras in New Orleans I made the mistake of going there, but it was so unbelievably packed and miserable that I vowed to never do that again. Not only is Uptown a more picturesque area, but it’s definitely more populated with locals instead of tourists, so you’re able to get a true feeling for the holiday instead of dealing with ridiculously drunk tourists. And…I don’t like to see flashing boobs. So, uptown is where I spent my weekend.
So, how does one even begin to explain NOLA Mardi Gras to someone who’s never been? It’s so much to take in. Then I figured out (while I was being pensive waiting for a parade to start) that the best way to describe it would be to talk about the senses, because Mardi Gras is an experience for all 5 senses. It’s not just sights; it’s not just sounds. All of your senses are engaged, heightened, and intensified. That’s what makes it so fun and so unique. Here are some of the many sights/sounds/smells/tastes/feels (some good, some bad) of Mardi Gras:
This is the most obvious. Huge, colorful floats. (I’m talking INSANE floats.) Tree-lined streets packed with people of all ages and races. Beautiful, historic mansions lining St. Charles Street. Masked float riders throwing beads to the screaming crowd. Toilet paper strewn from trees that had been thrown out during the Tucks parade. Street cars full of people riding down the street. Huge, multi-colored Mardi Gras beads. Children sitting atop decorated ladders, waiting to catch a bead or toy. Someone with beer spilled all down their front. People decked out in crazy costumes or just Mardi Gras colors (green, yellow, and purple). Tons of beads and hand grenade containers on the ground. Signs. A poor, unfortunate soul being taken away be the cops. Wide-eyed tourists.
People yelling at the top of their lungs for beads. “THROW ME SOMETHING, MISTER!” Marching bands performing while walking in the parade. (My favorite was the high school band that did “Uptown Funk,” one of my many anthems for the weekend.) Music blaring from the floats and from the “tailgates” set up in the crowd. Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” being played about 235456234 times (ugh). Kids laughing. Drunk teenagers (ok, fine, people of all ages) being rowdy. Street parties. Sirens. Everyone yelling extra loudly for Bacchus’s celebrity King, John C. Riley, when his float passed.
Popeyes fried chicken. Crawfish being boiled before a parade starts. Vomit and/or urine. (Sorry, its true. It’s not often but it does happen.) More Popeyes fried chicken. Sausage and/or hamburgers grilling. Smoke. Gumbo. And did I mention Popeye’s fried chicken?
Basically everything I mentioned in “SMELLS” IF you’re lucky enough. For me personally, I wasn’t able to actually eat all of the delicious things I smelled along the parade route at people’s street parties. For me it was cheese fries, beer, wine, king cake, sandwiches, more fries, and mimosas.
Feelings (This applies to the physical feelings of touch.)
Catching a bead from a Krewe member. The feeling of getting smacked in the face by a bead you didn’t see coming. The feeling of sitting down after you’ve been on your feet for 7+ hours. Bumping into people you pass on the crowded street. Your aching feet. Ice cold beer in your hand. A light breeze hitting you in an absolutely gorgeous day.
All in all, the weekend was a success. Bacchus on Sunday afternoon is my absolute favorite parade. This year’s theme was “Children’s Stories That Will Last Forever,” so the floats were everything from Aesop’s Fables to Where the Wild Things Are to Harry Potter (!!!!!!). It was amazing! ANDDD to top it all off, I spent less than $20. SUCCESS!
New Orleans has and always will have such a dear place in my heart. Although I do want to end up living outside of Louisiana, and am making a big move soon, I absolutely love everything about Mardi Gras, and I think its something you have to experience at least once! (Although preferably way more.) Its Thursday, and I’m still recovering…which means it was a success!
Check out some pictures from this weekend! And if you REALLY want to get in the spirit, listen to this awesome Mardi Gras playlist whilst browsing!