Friday, February 20, 2009
Gosh, I have some wonderful memories of Mardi Gras as a little girl. My parents would always take us for Mardi Gras day out by Lakeside Mall in Fat City. We'd meet up with her high school friends and family. I remember how we'd all dress up in our "Mardi Gras Costumes". You don't see that much anymore. And it would be truck-float after truck-float. You'd hear the sound of the horn from the 18-wheeler truck to let you know the next float was coming. It seemed like they would never stop -- it was one big endless party! You'd see the street vendors pushing around shopping carts full of "popcorn, peanuts, and cotton candy", and that's how they'd announce it as they went on by. They'd have blow up toys and pop-n-snaps, and even glow-necklaces for the night parades. One year I remembered me and my sister Wanda wearing our roller skates to the parade thinking it would be easier than all that walking. My mom would always make a big bowl of potato salad and homemade fried chicken (in that harvest gold Tupperware bowl), that would be to go along with the other goodies that the others brought. One memory I don't like is how one particular Aunt (no names) would bring her children to meet up with us at the parades and all was fine and dandy at the parade, until we got home. She would make each of us kids dump all our goodies in the middle of the floor and she would separate one by one to make sure all the kids got equal parts. Well, darn, it was my fingers that got stomped on for that doubloon and I didn't want to have to give it up to her kid. Oh well, life goes on...but it only proved to those kids as they got older that "LIFE IS NOT FAIR" -- not everything and everyone is created equal. I even have a scar on my hand still today, from another parade goer that got a little too close to me with his cigarette while reaching for beads thrown from a float. OUCH! As we got a little older and Mom and Dad weren't interested in going anymore, my brother would pile us into his vehicle with his buddies and take us girls along. He would take us to the BIG parades...Endymion and Bacchus...the good one's with the celebrities in them. Once, we were sitting in parade traffic and he thought he was gonna be a showoff as driver of the car and bet us all that he could get super super close to the car in front of us without hitting it. Boy was he wrong, he hit it!!! He also used to take us to the parades in Gretna on Franklin. We'd pick the same spot year after year - - right across from the Old Don Bohn Ford car dealership. We'd always meet up with his friend Anthony and his family. Cheryl was the funnest to hang around with. While we were waiting for the parades, she would tell us jokes and make us laugh. I even remember her teaching me to say my numbers in French (yep, out there while waiting for the parade to come). We'd laugh even more than the joke was funny, because Cheryl was a short girl with really big boobs...and when she'd get to giggling, her boobs would go to wiggling. We had so much fun with her and her family. R.I.P. Cheryl. Then as we got a little older, my oldest sister Patty used to bring us all over in her little Sunbird. She would take us to all the Terrytown parades. We really did appreciate being chauffered around by her, although we may not have shown it at the time. You all know how teenagers can be. But, she always wanted to make sure we were happy. (Thank you, Patty). I also remember going to the parades with my other sister Lizzy on St. Charles Avenue. They would camp out all night in Mr. Junior's old van, just to get a good spot up front. You'd see couches all over the neutral ground. It's was the funniest thing. You'd also see body parts that you didn't care to see. But as they all say, that's where the real party is at - - downtown New Orleans! There were several seasons, I'd run the parades with my best friend Patty (Provance, as some of you know her now). Our husbands were not parade goers and we'd leave them home and we'd go chase the floats. As soon as the last float passed, we'd hop in the car and hit it later on down the route. Sometimes, we'd catch the same parade 3 times in the same night. As Greg and I got older and I was able to get him pumped up a little about the parade season, we would catch the parades in front of his dad's body shop on 4th street (that was always a good, fun route). Then as we got a little older, we were big parade goers in Metairie for several years. I remember us going out there everynight! This was the place for the not-so-wild family oriented parties. Ya see, I guess we were settling down a little at that point. And that was the only time 'cold' Popeyes Fried Chicken tasted good to me. We'd buy a box early that morning (Popeyes would get started early), and we'd pick on that chicken all day. Then once Dalton came along, it was easier to just stay on the Westbank. It was a much smaller parade but we'd get a good spot where we could catch it two times. We'd say the really long all-day ordeals would be too much, but at the same time, it seemed we could never get enough. On the westbank, we'd park our camper along the route and have all the amenities like at home. It made it much easier with having a little one, especially with the pottie situation. Finding a bathroom during Mardi Gras is a whole other Chapter....We'd have family and friends over with the cook-out and all. The party would continue long after the parade was gone. We really passed a good time! Laissez les bon temps rouler! Well now, we're living in Mississippi and there is no Mardi Gras here. We have 4th of July parades and Christmas parades. And they are a lot of fun, but nothing compared to the 'greatest free show on earth' in New Orleans during Mardi Gras time. And the extra holiday from work - - the 4-day weekend that everyone is bragging about right now-- well, I don't get that anymore. But I must say, I don't miss the parade traffic either after working downtown New Orleans for 14 years and just trying to get home after a hard days work while everyone else is trying to get in for the parade. Now that Dalton is getting older, he has the itch to do Mardi Gras. He was too young when we left there for him to really remember it. He was about 4. So this year we decided to take him. We were originally planning to take him for Mardi Gras day...ya see, I was planning to take a vacation day and let him skip a day of school since he had not missed any this year...but them some very special friends of ours (a firefighter and his family) invited us to the fire station to share the festivities with them the Sunday before Fat Tuesday. We were overjoyed to be able to spend it with them and Dalton is just so tickled to spend such a fun day with their kids. And he is sooooo hoping for a chance to slide down the pole at the fire station like the firefighters do. And the big kicker....are you ready for this?.....there is a bathroom there for us to use. We won't have to stand in extremely long lines to use the wonderful (okay, I'm being facetious) Port-O-Lets along the route. Yuck! Those things never have toilet paper and how in the heck are you supposed to bring a kid in there and expect them to not touch anything?? And when you're partying and drinking a lot of beer, the bathroom visits become more frequent, so it ends up not being so fun while you're waiting to use the facilities and the floats are rolling by. The forecast calls for some rain on Sunday, but you all know a little rain never stopped New Orleanians from throwing a good party. You're not gonna stop us that easily. There will be three day-parades on Sunday with the big bang, Bacchus, that night. Val Kilmer will reign as King this year. I'll try to get some good pics of him, but don't get excited, I'm sure he won't be showing any body parts. So, with 4 parades in one day, starting at around 11:00am and wrapping up at around 10:00pm that night, I think Dalton will get his fill. We'll spend the night and head home the next day after stopping for beignets, of course. Dalton loves them beignets.
Sooo, we're off for a big party this weekend in New Orleans and I'll fill you in on all the fun and some photos too when we get back.
And oh, Cathy R., rolling my house while I'm gone is not part of the Mardi Gras festivities.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
I'd love to hear memories of others from their parading days, so please leave comments.
Posted by -Cathy at 11:07 AM