Mardi Gras elicits a seemingly singular response from friends and family that revolves around the belief that going means that you are going to be letting your morals loose and your boobs free.
“How did you get so many beads eh?”
“Bet you partied the whole time!”
“Oh ya, did you show your boobs?!?”
“Better let you go so that you can get back to the debauchery.”
This is my 2nd Mardi Gras experience in New Orleans.
My morals are well intact. I got a lot of beads. Confused?
- Good girls can get a lot of beads. True story. You can raise your hands up, shout loud, or do a little dance and the balcony goers will throw you plenty of beads. Sometimes strangers will simply give you beads because they think you don’t have enough bling around your neck. Chances are just walking down Bourbon Street is enough to get hit with a random bead throwing. I can say with honesty that I might of seen a grand total of 4 sets of free boobs roaming the streets – that were for the most part painted or decorated in celebration.
- Mardi Gras is a family affair. I saw grandmothers dressed to the nines and throwing beads off the balconies. Older couples proudly walking the streets in full costume. Bothers and sisters celebrated Fat Tuesday together. Families on vacation laughing together and taking in the sites. Walking and cruise tours were frequent. It wasn’t unusual to see a baby carriage pushed down Bourbon Street. I even had a lovely little chat with a lively 5 yr old who had a neck full of beads and was dancing in the street with her family.
- It is a safe atmosphere. Extra police and law enforcement are in abundance. We only saw one fight. Most people looked out for one another. I was even stopped by a strip club owner and advise that I should put my camera strap around my neck so that I wouldn’t lose it. Strangers are constantly complimenting each other. I did indeed lose my wallet and phone, and to be honest – that was my fault. As a frequent traveler I knew better than to leave the hotel with a full wallet and phone. I should of stripped my wallet and left my cell at the hotel. It most likely fell out of my purse…or knowing me I might of put it down somewhere.
- It can get a little wild. There are strip clubs. There are elaborate and questionably dressed people. Alcohol is everywhere. Sometimes it seems like you stepped into a circus. It’s lively. You will see all walks of life. There will be an abundance of Christian groups. College kids. Soldiers. How is this surprising? Because even though you think you can imagine it – experiencing this atmosphere is something else all together. It makes me appreciate humanity in the best sense to see such diversity being accepted in one setting.
- It’s not just a party. Mardi Gras is serious business in New Orleans. Serious business. The town leaders are heavily involved. They dress up. There is a carnival King named Rex. The king gets etiquette lessons. There are debutantes. There are elaborate balls were ladies dress in gowns and white gloves. It’s a money maker for the city. There are the krewes. Parade watchers will get up early for a prime seat and beam with pride if they manage to catch the bigger ‘throws‘ from the floats. This is an even rich in tradition and history, and so much more than what outsiders assume!
I traveled with a girl friend for Mardi Gras, we had some drinks on Bourbon Street in celebration on Sunday and still managed to be back at the hotel for 9pm! 🙂
The rest of the trip we broke out our cameras and enjoyed the parades, walked around the French Quarter, tasted creole treats and beignets (ah-mazing), explored healthy restaurants (loving Meals From The Heart Café!!!) and chatted up strangers of all sorts (love hearing their stories!).
We walked 10-20kms per day. 🙂
Not quite the indulgent debauchery everyone assumes, and by far a great experience!