Beads were thrown, enormous quantities of booze were consumed, and undoubtedly many boobies were flashed.
As for that last part, I didn’t see any because I stayed away from the French Quarter (mind you, I’ve got nothing against boobs, it’s just that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t feel the need to go out of my way to see ’em. Hmmm, maybe I’ve matured. Well, probably not, but that’s a discussion for another time and place).
But what I realized as a newcomer to New Orleans this year is that Mardi Gras is about more than just booze, beads, and boobs (and I refer here to drunken boobs also, as well as the anatomical ones), and I think that’s not really the picture you get from national media coverage.
Mardi Gras is actually an entire season of parades, pride, and celebration here in New Orleans. Weeks of festivity lead up to Fat Tuesday, with krewes of all shapes, sizes, and colors doing their respective thing.
The range is astounding, from old-line krewes like Rex and Zulu, to newer upstarts like ‘tit Rex (pronounced “T-Rex”), a satirical crew that marches pulling shoebox-sized floats, or the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, which promises to “save the galaxy, one drunken nerd at a time,” and whose parade is led by a Sacred Drunken Wookie.
Sure, there is drunken excess and wanton carnality. This is New Orleans, after all, and we wouldn’t want or expect anything less.
But away from the French Quarter, Mardi Gras is a family activity. Most of the larger parades begin Uptown before winding their way to the Quarter, and Uptown seems to be where families and locals go to watch them. You see kids and parents in costume, and tent cities with barbecue grilles smoking and coolers full of beer and soda. Sure, people drink in the streets, because that’s what you do in New Orleans, but everyone I saw seemed happy, respectful, and in control of themselves — out to enjoy Mardi Gras with friends and family.
As a newly-local New Orleanian, that’s my take on Carnival. You may or may not agree, but I hope you enjoy my photos. Boobs not included.