Today is Lundi Gras, the day before Mardi Gras day — the culmination of a weeks’ long celebration in the city of New Orleans and the place I call home! If you’ve never been to New Orleans during Carnival Season, might I suggest that you find a way to add it to your bucket list? It’s the ultimate party.
Families are gathered around, dancing and eating (and yes drinking) in the streets. Parade revelers are shouting to masked acquaintances, prodding them to throw them down a rain of beads and doubloons, plastic cups and medallions. And because New Orleanians are so “polite,” even the screams are peppered with platitudes. “Throw me something, mister” we scream out.
At Zulu, the most beautifully decorated coconuts are handed to parade attendees, but only the lucky ones. And Indian chiefs show off the grand majesty of their attire — the hard work they’ve put into crafting their head gear and their costumes. At Muses, men and women alike clamor to catch the best heels thrown out from the floats, knowing that getting a spectacular one is quite the bragging prize.
The balls are a sight to see as well. Folks dressed in their best — gowns and tuxes and suits and furs mix with streamers and liquor and the best food you could ever taste.
Little kids are laughing, adults are enjoying their moment to have not a care in the world, all while marching bands strut through the city, showing off their hours and weeks and months of hard work.
I’m telling you, there really is nothing like New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
The masks and colors will amaze you. The purple, green, and gold filling every space imaginable. The people drawing you into their charm — the same charm that makes my home like no other city in the world. The charm that makes it perfectly reasonable for cashiers to chat up the patrons in the drug store before ever ringing up their items. The same charm that Lil Wayne described perfectly on his last appearance on First Take when he explained that the people of New Orleans are not nice, because that implies that we have to work at it. No, he said, we are humble, so it oozes out of us naturally.
The truth is there’s something special about the city, the residents, and the way we celebrate life. And that something special makes me miss home even more on days like today.
I definitely need to be amongst the crowds this time next year. I need to be in my rightful place. I hope to see you all down there too.
Happy Mardi Gras everyone!!!