This year, though, people on the ground were waving and cheering at ME!
This year, I rode on a mothaf*ckin float!!
It was crazy to see a parade from the perspective of a rider, with the thousands and thousands of people all screaming and waving and shouting.
I had never thought about how that would look before I suppose. It sort of felt twilight zone-ish.
“Hey, that’s how we look when we go to parades!” I told my friend. “Woooooah man.”
(Only I have a better attitude than that girl.)
There were some people on the ground who cheered and waved the way I do – large arm swoops left and right and a concentrated “HEEEEEEEEEY!”
Others ran all the way up to the float with a kid on their shoulders and asked for stuffed animals.
Some were on stands, some atop ladders, some on top of cars.
There were people on balconies, on the ground far away from the float, up close to the float. As many wildly different ways you can imagine.
And they were all cheering and screaming at ME!!
Someone shouted “blondie” to get my attention, one guy shouted “beautiful” (haaaaaay).
One lady with a bottle of Everclear yelled for a plastic cup.
Some people even banged on the float looking for stuff. (They didn’t get any beads from me.)
It was so fun! Choosing who to throw beads to! And making people happy with my things!
This little girl’s face was so adorable when I pulled out a stuffed tiger to throw to her.
And I loved when people gave me the thumbs up sign and “THANK YOU” screams after they caught things.
I started out not being very good at throwing people beads. I shorted it a lot.
The beads would literally land a full 2 feet in front of the people they were meant for.
(After getting made fun of by my friend, I learned to improve my aim throughout the day. The trick is to throw further than you think you should.)
My friend Marsha had arranged for us to ride in the float in the annual Crescent City Truck Parade on Mardi Gras day.
The Crescent City truck parade follows some pretty well-known parades down St. Charles Avenue and there are 50 or so trucks in it.
The floats consist of the front half of an 18-wheeler attached to a long open bed with tall sides. Thirty of us all lined up on either side to throw beads.
First, we had to reserve a spot in the parade, which was done last July. Then, we had to find a truck driver with a float. Marsha found him on Craig’s List.
Isn’t that so New Orleans??? Looking for truck parade floats on Craig’s List??
(I’ll get to the apartment listings later darling, right now I’m looking for a truck parade float that has a port-a-potty inside it.)
The truck we found was already decorated like a pirate ship, so we were pirates.
I was impressed with all of our pirate costumes and all the beads and stuff everyone brought to throw to the crowd.
We had stuffed animals, rubber chickens, little pillows that looked like $100 bills, whistles, trinkets, footballs, cups, plastic pitchforks, a gagillion bags of beads and even fake poop.
I reused my Tinkerbell costume from Halloween and bought a hook and a mask. I was “one degree of separation” from Captain Hook.
There was a lot of waiting around on the float that morning, but that’s because our truck had to line up in order with all the other floats.
But the waiting was fine because there were two kegs on the truck, a port-a-potty, and we brought a lot of poboys (thanks for my special order of turkey, Shane!! God, I’m the pickiest. Eater. ever.)
We also had good music playing on big speakers so basically it was like a moving house keg party with 29 of your closest friends.
There was also time for pirate makeup
When the float finally got rolling, it got craaa-zy. All of a sudden the parade was happening, y’all!!!! and we started throwing things left and right to the endless stream of people.
My favorite thing to throw were the big massive Saints beads. A friend of mine said his favorite was throwing people decks of cards.
Speaking of which, it was also fun seeing your friends’ bead-throwing styles. The guy next to me threw moon pies into people's car windows haha.
It really was a great day and experience. The weather was gorgeous (which was good because Tinkerbell doesn’t wear very much) and I managed to allot all my beads perfectly so I didn’t run out until the very, very end.
I even got to throw beads to my parents who met us on the route (although a kid stole my big Saints beads off the ground by my dad’s feet that were intended for him. Humph.)
I will forever remember this Mardi Gras, the first time I rode in a parade.
I also now know how I look to float riders!
Next time I’m down there waving for beads and screaming, I can envision what the riders are seeing. It’s like a club. The “I’ve ridden in a float” club. Maybe I’ll make T-shirts.
Good advice: As a rider, I loved people with signs and costumes.
I threw beads to everyone holding a sign.
(I also threw beads to this guy who flashed me a fake penis made out of a long balloon that you make balloon animals with. I was horrified and threw beads to him just to get him to go away. But I’m not giving that out as advice.)
Normal costumes were a hit for me - wigs, bodysuits, glitter, headpieces. That’s the stuff I go for.
So, future riders…if you see someone in the crowd dressed like Tinkerbell…holler.