I've lived in south Louisiana for more than eight years. My first Mardi Gras season included a couple of Baton Rouge parades and one in New Orleans. I had a BLAST at the Baton Rouge one, and I really enjoyed collecting beads and throws.
New Orleans was different -- we had to park far away, we got soaking wet from rain and the other people along the parade route were rude and ungracious. I still don't understand the etiquette -- is neutral ground where anyone is allowed to stand? And anything else people have to stake out for days or hours in advance? There was so much space and so many throws! It left a bad impression anyway, and I didn't want to get into a physical fight with drunk people so we moved away to behind some barriers at a turn where no people were (because the riders would have to throw farther and you'd get less stuff).
Then my morning sickness started on the way back from that first NOLA parade, and so forevermore I will associate the smell of cheap plastic Mardi Gras beads with nausea. Ugh. That started the aversion to Mardi Gras season, parades in particular.
Now with two kids who are native Louisianans I should be more into the parade scene, right? WRONG. I am still very much a Mardi Gras grinch, probably even more so factoring in the hassle of taking children to parades.
Basically now we only go to Southdowns, a family-friendly, low-key parade that is near our house. We still have to drive, but we understand the timing now, know a family who lives near enough to walk near the parade's start, so after it passes we can get back in the car and scoot back home. It's at night, but still doable. Even that doesn't seem "worth it," but we go anyway.
The idea of taking my kids to a double-digit number of parades EACH YEAR astounds me. I've read tips and tricks and poems and other blog posts from New Orleans moms about that very idea -- and they're doing it whole heartedly. It baffles me. What is the point?!
So my question is - am I alone in my grinchness? Or is there a quiet minority that doesn't prioritize the parades, the accumulation of crap (we have enough without competing for it!) and the inevitable melt downs (by mama and/or the kids)?
I'm still down to jam to Mardi Gras mambo and for kids' trike parades. I don't crave king cake, but that's mostly OK with me too and is certainly a marker of the season. But the parades seem like too much work for very little pay off. Clearly my mindset is different as an outsider, an introvert and a lazy person!
Progressive Christian wife, mama, writer, editor & crocheter blogging from Baton Rouge
Mardi Gras Grinch
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