Saturday, February 25, 2012

mardi gras in the big easy {2012}.

I've been trying to figure out a good way to tell you all about our first ever Mardi Gras experience here in the Crescent City. The whole week I have been hesitating and trying to figure out if I liked it or if I didn't like it.

I think I narrowed it down. To both.

Okay, so I didn't narrow it down. But I can say, when we went to see a couple parades on Monday, we did have fun. Seth's mom was in town (hi, Paula!) and she wanted to experience the events too. Side note: I love moms. We've had two here in the last two weeks and even though our apartment is even more full, it has been a blessing for sure. I like watching how much they care for their children even after they've grown and started their own lives. I really can't wait to be a mom someday. Emphasis on the someday.

We started with a trip on the street car down St. Charles as far as it would take us. Once we couldn't go any farther, we went for a stroll to find a place to watch the parades. First, we had to stop for some cotton candy from this guy. Tina is slowly introducing me to her favorite 'carnival' treats. Of course, I have had cotton candy before, but apparently, that's the only treat I have. I had no idea there are so many.

The street was FILLED with people and tents and food and probably lots of other things I'd rather not know about. I knew this was a big deal, but I still don't think I was prepared for all of the preparation everyone went through to get ready. At this point we had missed an earlier parade, so the garbage was already starting to pile up (one of the things that I didn't really like about the whole day).

The many outfits we saw were.. interesting.

If you can't tell, that cooler contained crawfish. Living ones. One of the men at this 'camp' would grab one and let it pinch his ear for everyone that would stop along the way. They were cooking them in the huge pot you can see in the photo above.

After passing through crowds, and seeing probably the biggest group of people doing the cupid shuffle I've ever seen, we found a little restaurant and decided to stop there. Turns out it was a perfect spot to see the parades and also stay out of the craziness for a bit. We enjoyed drinks and hors d'oeuvres while watching the first of two parades.

(My camera died on our way there so all of these photos are from my phone. Hopefully you can tell what everything is. That is a really big fish.) Then we thought we would get a little closer. Which brought some of us home with battle wounds from flying beads. I'm not even joking, Tina had a small cut on her nose. There was a really fun group of people next to us and one of the women left with a huge welt on her forehead.

Fair warning: they don't mess around with the beads here, people.

So, the second parade was apparently founded by Harry Connick Jr. a while back in an effort to get both men AND women involved. There is so much to learn.

photo one: Bret Michaels.
two: Harry Connick Jr., Mariska Hargitay, and Hillary Swank.
three: Cyndi Lauper (looking.. 'tired')
{I know. you're not convinced. you can't really tell, just trust me.}

So it was pretty entertaining, really. We laughed a lot at how aggressive the bead throwers were and how desperate everyone was to catch beads.

The trees on St. Charles look like this all year. But right now they're just a little extra festive.

That next photo is when we started feeling a little.. heavy. Sure it was a good time, but some people were having TOO much fun. The city was trashed. And hearing about how Mardi Gras was originally a family thing, and how the locals take pride in their family parades and celebrations, it was sad to see what us humans have made it. And how terrible we can treat the beautiful earth that God has blessed us with. We heard that the main reason New Orleans has an 'out of control' reputation is because of all the people that come to visit. As Chad said, 'we are a messy people.'

All of the festivities were happening at least three weeks prior to that. There were over sixty parades. So every weekend, there were multiple parades and after, the streets looked like there was a nuclear fallout (<--a little bit dramatic).

Needless to say, we were all satisfied with one night of that.

I'm sure we'll go out once next year, but I'd rather not feed into the craziness that the true locals don't really like. At least from what we have heard. We also heard many of them get out of town during Mardi Gras. I hope to continue learning more about the origins of all of the festivities during our time here so we can celebrate accordingly. (:

{note: no unnecessary showing of inappropriate skin occurred to acquire these beads. (: no really, they were just throwing them out to everyone.}

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