On our first year traveling we wanted to visit New Orleans, but the weather was horrible and by the time we waited for it to improve the Mardi Gras season was ramping up. To be frank, we were intimidated by it. We knew we didn’t want to expose our kids to the bawdy side of the event, so skipped past vowing to return again some time.
This past Thanksgiving was that time, when we saw the French Quarter, heard some live Jazz, had our Beignets and Chicory coffee, and ate Muffalettas. We also learned more about Mardi Gras from some locals, who told us that there were multiple parades and they weren’t all the tawdry exhibitions of hedonism that the main event looks to be.
We’re on an eastern trek and found ourselves back in New Orleans at the start of Mardi Gras. Today we banked on that deeper knowledge of the festival and went to a children’s parade put on by the Krewe of Little Rascals.
We left early and easily found parking about 1/3 of the way into the parade route. We sat in the truck for a while then headed over, finding a curbside spot. I played hacky-sack with the kids a bit to pass the time, then the parade found us.
It was an odd experience.
We’ve been talking about it as a family since we got back and all noted several things:
- For us, after making concentrated efforts to simplify and live in a small space with minimal possessions, seeing the crowds all beg for and scramble after the “throws” from the floats just seemed like over-the-top greed in action. The ~9 year old girl next to us collected roughly 60 strings of beads and other stuff and it just made us wonder - what happens to those tomorrow or next week? But, hey - it’s fun to catch free stuff! We got caught up in it too for a bit (I was hungry and suddenly they were throwing food!)
- We didn’t see many paraders smiling. Most had expressions that ranged from exhaustion to boredom to actual anger (maybe there is more to this throwing of objects than we realized).
- The parade was repetitive. Band / dance troop / float pretty much describes 90% of it. The “air-coolers” and “bug parade” vehicles were a welcome relief.
- We didn’t get to hear many of the bands actually play. Maybe it was just our position on the route.
- We saw a lot of really tired looking kids (and in a couple cases looking closer to dehydrated and ready to drop) We were concerned for them as there was a lot of parade route left.
- Our biggest disappointment? This parade featured not one New Orleans style street band. While the dance troops all had kicking systems to dance to, and some of the bands played music, being in New Orleans and big fans of the local music xwe expected at least a little of it to show up in the parade.
So overall while we get check off a “attend Mardi Gras parade” from our family bucket list this particular parade wasn’t all that, and I’m not sure we’ll attempt another. They only run on weekends and we’re scheduled to leave next Friday.