2001 vs. 2011
I’m home on a Friday night planted on the couch catching up on Jersey Shore and Office episodes because I’ve been to Mardi Gras parades for seven days straight.
SEVEN DAYS STRAIGHT!
So on the eighth day, I rest. Take that GOD.
(Ha, uh, just kidding. No lightning please.)
Having just moved back to New Orleans from South Carolina after being away for 10 years, I was curious to see if the parades would be the same.
It’s like when you go back to a childhood vacation spot and get all excited about a sense of nostalgia, and you either find it wonderfully the same or disappointingly unfamiliar.
In high school, all the cool kids would gather at a spot on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Seventh Street for Mardi Gras parades.
It got so popular and crowded at that corner that a woman who lived on the street wrote a letter to the editor in the newspaper about how all these “underage students from very prominent high schools” were partying in a shocking manner.
She wrote that this behavior included – no joke, I remember this verbatim - “fornication, urination, defecation” on the STREET, and she invited ALL parents to come out and see for themselves.
My mother was concerned.
“Is THIS where you are watching parades?” she asked me and my twin, sister, Joy, while holding the newspaper. “Seventh and St. Charles?”
We told her that we didn’t see anyone pooping, so no, that didn’t sound like the corner at all.
(Although, it was a pretty scandalous corner. I remember cops on horses came by once and hauled away all our alcohol in our coolers because we were 17. How annoying!)
That was my last memory of parades in New Orleans: Fornication, urination and defecation with fellow Catholic High schoolers who should know better.
I moved to South Carolina right after high school, and while I came back for several Mardi Gras celebrations during spring breaks, it was never long enough to see all the parades leading up to Mardi Gras day.
So, this year was my first full Mardi Gras season in ten years.
I stocked up on vodka.
One of the things different about watching the parades at age 17 and watching parades at age 27 is that now, I have several options of where and how to watch them.
I don’t need to go to the same corner (SEVENTH AND ST. CHARLES!!) each night to get free beer and/or stalk the cute guy a grade above me.
No! At age 27, I have now friends with their own apartments on the parade route, and I don’t have to get dropped off by my mom.
My first parade of 2011 was on Wednesday, the Krewe of Druids, and I saw it with my friend Bailey.
I drove to her house in my very own car, made my very own vodka drink, and rode her extra bike to the route.
It was just us two, and we caught so many beads we had to put them into the bike baskets.
Literally every person on each float that rolled by enthusiastically threw us beads when they saw us.
This never happened on the busy corner in high school.
(And I was too busy stalking the cute guy a grade above me to wave for beads.)
On Thursday, I saw the Muses parade with my mom, something that would NEVER happen in high school. I was way too cool for that. Haha
My mom, roommate and I had an awesome time and there was no fornication, urination or defecation.
It was fitting to watch The Muses parade with just ladies since it’s an all female crew.
Work it girl!!
Fancy woman shoe!
On Friday, I saw the Krewe D’Etat parade at a fancy hotel in downtown New Orleans. (CALL ME FANCY PANTS!)
I scored a ticket for their STANDS --- not on the street!!! --- through the city’s press association that I am automatically a member of since I work for a newspaper here. (JOURNALIST PERKS! FUCK YEA!)
I’ve never seen a parade from an EAGLE EYE before, so I RSVP’d immediately. High school students were certainly NOT invited.
Again, I caught a lot of beads, because I was at the same level as the float riders, and let’s be honest: throwing beads completely horizontally can get you the best aim when you see someone (me) waving their arms like a crazy person.
Throw me somethin' (horiontally)!!!
I love beads!!
On Saturday, the Endymion parade was cancelled because of rain, which was a bummer because I live in Mid-City where the parade route is. I could have had people over at MY apartment before the parade.
(I hate rain. I’m pretty sure every single person has at LEAST three instances in their lives when rain has ruined something.)
But I got lucky. My friend Jessica invited me to the Endymion ball that night, so we was able to see the floats before anyone else.
I never knew what happened at Mardi Gras balls until the Endymion ball. People talked about them, I saw pictures in the newspaper, but I never thought about regular people going.
So, I enthusiastically agreed to be Jessica’s date, and I did think about how the last time I went to an event where a floor-length dress was required was prom…in 2001.
At the ball, everyone sat at big, round tables and you could BYOB and BYOF.
I brought a whole bunch of Abita Strawberry beers and Girl Scouts Thin Mints, because those cookies are FIT for a ball and are the most exclusive cookies in town, ThankYouVeryMuch.
So, after everyone drank and ate (cookies) and danced to a house band for awhile, the parade rolled right through the party in an L-shape route, and everyone gets a front row seat.
My new goal after Saturday’s ball? Holy sh*t I need to win the lottery.
Just another Saturday night, dahling
I spent the night in the French Quarter at Jessica’s house and it felt magical waking up and walking out on her balcony the next morning, the Sunday before Mardi Gras.
(And since I’m not 17, I didn’t even have to call my mom and ask her if it was OK and have her talk to Jessica’s mom about it.)
It was a big day; the Endymion parade was rolling on Sunday to make up for being rained out the day before, which meant there was going to be five hours of parades that night.
I had to get picked up by my parents from the French Quarter on Sunday (Hello 2001!!) because cabs in New Orleans are a joke on Mardi Gras and their phone lines are always busy and they are never around. (Seriously…two thumbs DOWN)
For the five hours of parades, I drove to uptown New Orleans, not too far from my old stomping ground on Seventh Street and St. Charles.
I hung out with my friend Meredith’s friends from high school, and the entire group was so carefree, it reminded me of high school.
Maybe that was because some of the people who I was watching the parade with I actually did watch parades with in high school.
There were no parents, but there was a keg that they rolled (in a city trash can!!!) right out to the parade route.
Drinking from a keg, legally
Monday night’s parade (Lundi Gras for us New Orleanians) was watched under a bridge, which made the bands in the parades sound amazing, see?