1: The OMG Already??? Phase
This year, Mardi Gras parades started on December 22nd and ended on February 13th. With so much holiday overlap, we were already feeling a little saturated and concerned that we wouldn’t be ready for Mardi Gras. I was in the grocery store buying New Year’s Eve fixins (fancy cheeses, fancy chocolates, wine, fancy breads) when the person behind me in line spotted the Mardi Gras Schedule in the magazine rack. She sort of moaned and said she wasn’t sure she was ready, was I? I said I wasn’t now, but I knew I would be. She smiled and said she would be too.
2: The OMG! King Cake! Phase
It goes like this:
“Rouses has King Cakes! Get one! Get one!”
This is followed pretty quickly for Mike and me by:
“Um… I’m not sure I can really eat King Cake”
Which means the uneaten portion sits on the counter — as we haven’t given up hope on finishing it just yet.
3: The Getting Your Gear Prepped Phase
4: The Is this Construction Going to Be Done in Time?? Phase
Napoleon Avenue is the main north-south thoroughfare by our house. It’s also a major part of the Uptown parade routes. This section alone has been under construction for 6ish years, with the surfaces torn up and the large grass median (a.k.a. neutral ground) fenced off and full of construction action. Not only was the construction generally crappy for getting around, it was extra crappy for Mardi Gras parades. However this year, as the parade deadline was approaching, sod was being laid down with astonishing speed! Every day, Mike and I would walk over to Napoleon and see the progress. Was it going to happen in time?
5: The Grocery Shopping on Wednesdays so You Don’t have to Go on Sundays Phase
And that looks a little like this: “Oh crap! It’s already Wednesday. I’d better figure out what we’re going to eat next week so I don’t have to go to the grocery store during the parades.” Fortunately for us, I can walk to the grocery store and I don’t have to cross a parade route to do it. For other people, however, the struggle is real. Streets are closed and there’s no getting to or from home once that happens.
6: The Parades Are AMAZING Phase
7: The Gratitude Phase
As it turns out, the Napoleon Avenue construction was finished on time! This means, for the first time ever, Mike and I got to know what it was like to have a parade in the neutral ground. And let me tell you, it’s delightful! Instead of everybody being pressed into the sidewalks, we can roam freely through the grass. There are even public toilets available. It’s like being in a park and having a big party all at the same time. Love it!
And speaking of parties, this is a HUGE party that’s free and open to the public. The floats don’t even have advertising on them. What?? You don’t have to pay to get in. It rolls through several neighborhoods. Unique dance troupes dazzle us with creative costumes, and themes. This is such a big community celebration! So much love.
8: The First-Beads-of-the-Year-on-the-Fence Phase
9: The Not-All-Kittens-And-Rainbows Phase
History! Tradition! Cultural norms that are unhealthy and are still being perpetuated! This is the part of Mardi Gras that hurts because the social inequity we’re all participating in every day is illuminated so clearly. Why are marching bands (and the schools they’re representing) so segregated by skin color and gender? Oh why indeed.
10: The Chucking of the Very Stale King Cake
Look King Cake, it’s not you, it’s me. Then again, maybe it is you. Regardless, this thing between us ain’t gonna happen. Buh-bye.
11: The Sitting-This-One-Out Phase
Look, you’ve got to pace yourself. Just because you can hear it, clear as day, rolling past your house with super talented marching bands, beautiful floats, hilarious and inspiring dance troupes, and your friend’s krewe is about to roll by, doesn’t mean you have to go out there… okay wait… I’ll be right back… 10 minutes tops… promise…
12: The Exhausted-But-So-Sad-It’s-Over Phase
Phew! awww… it’s over! :(
So wait — when’s the St Patrick’s Day parade? Oh, two weeks away? That’s so long from now! Annnnd zzzzzzz….