Today is Mardi Gras Day, stands for “fat Tuesday” in French. Most of the people I know have never lived or even BEEN in New Orleans…so their concept of Mardi Gras is brought to them by the media…booze and breasts…well thats not the Mardi Gras I know. And just like most of us can attest from other forums in life, the media just doesn’t accurately depict things as they are. Yes there is booze and yes some women flash themselves to get stuff from the floats, but in the 10 years of going to Mardi Gras parades growing up, I never saw it once (the flashing)! There are spots designated for families and most of the partygoers don’t go there…here is a quote I found:
Parades went on for weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day, (the day before Ash Wednesday). The point was to have a party and eat and have fun the day before Catholics started their fast for lent. Of course I didn’t know about this growing up becaues we weren’t Catholic and didn’t participate in lent. I just knew we got 3 days off of school the week of Mardi Gras. My family had friends who even started their own “krewe” called the Krewe of Little Rascals. That parade happened in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. When I was 5, my brother Ryan and I got to ride on the float and throw beads and cups and toys off to people in the crowds. (below I am climbing up the ladder onto my float…in the tiger costume)It was called “little rascals” because it was all about the kids. Kids were the main participants on the floats. Each krewe also has a King and Queen and in this case, it was also children. A funny story about us riding on the float is I dumped all my stuff out to people in the first 5 minutes and my brother was very meticulous and only threw out a little at a time. The story goes that he generously shared with me the rest of the parade…thank you, big bro!
Anyway…I have fond memories as a child sitting on top of a homemade ladder box seat, waving my arms yelling, “Throw me something, Mister!” The people on the floated threw bead necklaces, small toys, doubloon coins, but I was always hoping for a LONG bead or stuffed animal. THOSE were the treasures to me. In the above picture my dad is holding me (heart drawn on my forehead) in front of our family ladder filled with blankets. We were up high enough that the people on the floats could see us and we could sit above the crowd. There are sections in New Orleans that catered more to the family crowd and thats where we would go. My grandparents would often fly in from Utah each February/March to join us in the Mardi Gras festivites…it was a family affair! Below picture myself and Russell seated in the ladder next to….Bert and Ernie????King Cakes are yummy memory, and each year in school we would have a king cake every friday and whoever got the “baby” would bring the king cake the next week to school. That lasted 6-8 weeks or so. The New Era church magazine for youth even came out to document our Mutual group that went together to show it was also a family place. Can’t seem to locate those pictures, but ah well. Here is a list of “krewes” or parades that occur throughout the season.
When I was about 12 years old, Kirk Cameron and his siblings on Growing Pains (My favorite show at that time) came for the Endymion parade. This parade was held the Saturday before Fat Tuesday and always had a celebrity as the captain (Kelly Ripa was a year or so ago). The day before the parade, I snagged this picture (with my childhood 110 film camera) at a public event. Oh…Kirk Cameron….how I long to look into your eyes from the poster of my childhood room.
Last year for Mardi Gras we got a king cake to share in the tradition with my children, and I ordered one again this year. I am so happy that I live close enough that some bakeries actually make them! Here we are eating the yumminess.
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