The statement, “to the rest of the world it’s just another Tuesday” could not be more correct. Mardi Gras this year was on Tuesday, February 28. LSU acknowledges Mardi Gras as an official school holiday leaving me with no classes Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday during the week of Mardi Gras and the public schools in New Orleans are fortunate enough to get the full week off in observance.It’s also no uncommon for adults to schedule a their vacation time to fully celebrate and engage in the holiday.
Mardi Gras celebrations began January 6th – Three Kings Day – the 12th night after Christmas, marking the end of the Christmas season and the official start of Mardi Gras. Meredith and I started off the celebrations with getting a King Cake from our favorite donut shop. We devoured the round pastry covered in icing and decorated with purple, green, and yellow colored sugar. Much of the Mardi Gras season you’ll see everything king cake flavored, ranging from king cake coffee, king cake vodka, king cake beer, king cake cookies, to king cake Blue Bell ice cream. You’ll also find a wide array of Zapp’s potato chips in all kinds of Mardi Gras flavors.
Over the span of Mardi Gras both New Orleans and Baton Rouge host a multitude of balls and parades. The greater New Orleans area hosts 70 parades over the span of the Mardi Gras Season, and Baton Rouge itself has 6 parades over the span of two weeks, one of which was in our neighborhood – Spanish Town. Meredith and I were able to make it to 4 of the 6 parades in Baton Rouge with our favorite being the Spanish Town Parade. At all the parades it is a competition to catch as many beads and take aways (stuffed animals, tokens, and even light up swords) as possible with everyone being your competition. Parents build elaborate ladders to position their children several feet in the air to catch beads, people fight over highly coveted take aways, and there is no shortage of drinking as our city has a very relaxed open container policy. Meredith and I caught our fair share of beads of all sizes and managed to snatch up a few prized take aways. I think in total we caught 120 beads, 4 stuffed animals, various candies and food, and 4 specialized beads.
The Spanish Town Parade is geared towards adults, filled with political satire, and represented by Spanish Town’s neighborhood mascot – the flamingo. This year’s theme was, Come Hell or High Water, Slippery When Wet (in leu of the flooding Baton Rouge experienced in August 2016) . We saw our fair share of Trump and Hilary jokes, jazz bands dressed in all out pink, and locals dressed in drag. The parade didn’t start until noon but come 6am people were already out, eating and drinking, DJs playing music, and people staking their spots along the parade route. Meredith and I attend a party hosted by a fellow LSU renewable natural resources student and had the opportunity to make a lot of new friends from the LSU community. The parade had over 40 floats, each decorated to fit the theme, and the streets jam packed with people making it hard to just about move anywhere. After that parade, Meredith and I both agreed Mardi Gras is something everyone should experience once in their lifetime. Maybe next year we’ll be brave enough to venture to New Orleans.
Writing and photo credit for this post goes to my lovely wife, Meredith. I’ve been very busy with school and research lately, so Meredith stepped in to update our friends and family. Also, be sure to congratulate her on her new job as an occupational therapist at North Oaks Hospital!