84. Mardi Gras (“Throw Me Something, Mister!”)

8 Mar

Throw me something, mister!

Laissez le bon temps rouler, y’all. At least until midnight tonight. You’d think that in the South Fat Tuesday wouldn’t be that big a deal. I mean, what distinguishes it from Fat Wednesday, Fat Thursday, or Fat Friday? In a word: beads.

Pop quiz: Which city hosted the first Mardi Gras celebration in North America? If you answered “New Orleans,” you are A. wrong and B. obviously not from Alabama. Yes, folks, the good people of Mobile, Alabama, got the party started years before New Orleans was even founded. They gave birth to the tradition, and then New Orleans came along and turned it into a juvenile delinquent with a substance abuse problem. Not that they’re bitter.

Is there any place more fun than New Orleans on Fat Tuesday? I think not. If your idea of fun includes being jostled by an unruly mob, having beer spilled on you (repeatedly), and groveling (or worse) for some cheap-ass plastic beads. For some, this is heaven. For others, it’s hell. For me, it’s a little of both. Yes, folks, I’m willing to dodge a little vomit in hopes of catching a doubloon. If anyone wants to trade one for the giant pair of granny panties I caught one time, please let me know.

The last time I celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I was in my 20s. If I were to do it again, I’d want a hotel room with a balcony. Not necessarily to avoid being trampled (though that’s a plus), but to have access to a bathroom that’s been sanitized for my protection. I would rather pee on the street than enter the ninth circle of hell better known as the porta-potty. Picture the poophouse scene in “Slumdog Millionaire.” Or don’t. I still have nightmares.

Ok, moving on. Did I mention there’s cake? And costumes? And beads? And cake?

It’s not particularly tasty cake. But there’s green and purple frosting. And a plastic baby inside. If you get the slice with the baby, you win a fabulous prize: you have to procure a King Cake and host the next party. Woo hoo! Who doesn’t enjoy providing pastry for a bunch of drunken ne’er-do-wells? I’m not sure what happens if you don’t follow through. Maybe Rumpelstilskin convinces your first-born child to run off and join the circus or take up with a bunch of proselytizing vegans.

Well, I should wrap this up before Ash Wednesday rolls around.

What’s the best thing you ever caught at Mardi Gras? No STD stories, please.

All photos from Flickr Creative Commons: Bead seekers by Philippe Leroyer, Mardi Gras Beads by Mike Bitzenhofer, and King Cake by Logan Brown.

19 Responses to “84. Mardi Gras (“Throw Me Something, Mister!”)”

  1. Stacy March 9, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    Yes, wholeheartedly agree with you on the balcony, but for me it’s definitely to avoid the crowds too. By the way, what King Cakes have you been eating?! The ones I’ve had are scrumptious! I’ve got a recipe on my page if you want to try it 🙂

    • Kim Holloway March 9, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      I haven’t had one in about 15 years, seeing as mardi gras never really caught on out here. The only kind I’ve had are the ones folks bring to work, and I may have purchased one from a grocery store in N.O. once. So I haven’t really given them a fair chance, I reckon.

      I checked out your recipe, it does indeed sound delicious. I bake quite a bit, but I’ve never dared try yeast. It’s high time I conquer that fear. Your recipe is the perfect excuse. Thanks!

  2. Joe March 9, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    New Orleans Mardi Gras was fun when I was in college but having lived in Mobile twice after that…in my middle 20’s and later in my early 40’s…Mobile is much more manageable and fun. Instead of a million people you have more like 100,000. Plus if you live there, you have more people that you konw to party with and you know people in the krewes which is the most important thing. Besides beads and doubloons, the other big traditional throw is moon pies. I once had a drunk friend on a float in a ladies’ krewe throw a large plastic bag with over a hundred moon pies at me. Now granted it almost knocked me down but I caught it and shared the bounty with everyone around me and then had plenty left to munch on for the next month at home. So, there you go. Two things on your list…moon pied and Mardi Gras.

    • Kim Holloway March 9, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      How did I NOT know they throw Moon Pies in Mobile? And giant bags of them, no less!! You’ve won me over. If I make a trek to celebrate Mardi Gras, it’s Mobile or bust.

      Perhaps you could help me out with a krewe connection. It’s always been one of my dreams to ride on a Mardi Gras float. That or the Mal’s St. Paddy’s Day Parade.

      • Joe March 10, 2011 at 10:45 am #

        Unfortunately, I think you have to be a member of a krewe to ride the floats. They actually used to have one ball in Mobile that was open to the public. I’m sure you had to buy tickets or something. All of the others you have to know someone to get an invitation if you aren’t a member.
        BTW, they actually drop a giant moon pie that’s like 20′ tall at midnight in downtown Mobile every New Year’s Eve now. I personally hope that it is banana.

        • Kim Holloway March 10, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

          Is it a real moon pie or just a replica? It would be pretty awesome to get a slice of giant moon pie. (As long as it’s banana.)

  3. victoriasfolly March 9, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Ok, I’m gonna admit right upfront that I’m biased. By that I mean, I’m an Alabama girl from Mobile. So of course, I’m going to say that Mardi Gras in Mobile is WAY more fun, especially if you are honoured with being invited to many of the Mardi Gras Balls. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from that magical week when school is in recess and we get to play dress up and run about like savages leading up to the big day.

    Having said that , I also have relatives in LA – no not California – and I’ve been informed by aunts, uncles, cousins who live in and around the Big Easy that for the past several years – perhaps even a couple of decades – that some of the Natives tired of the hurly burly (not to mention expense) that Mardi Gras has become in New Orleans have moved their official celebrations to neighbouring towns and cities, such as Biloxi and Mobile. If true, I think that’s rather sad.

    • Kim Holloway March 9, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      I, too, have heard that folks in N.O. get out of dodge when Mardi Gras rolls around. I’ve only made day-trip visits, so I imagine enduring a whole week of festivities would get old pretty quick.

      Y’all are making me wish I’d grown up in Mobile. I have never once been to a ball of any kind, which I think is a travesty.

      • victoriasfolly March 9, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

        A travesty, indeed! If you ever get to Mobile, I’ll be happy to extend introductions to my cousins. The mystic societies and krewes are typically one and the same. It’s a double bonus – riding on a float (space permitted) and attending a Ball 🙂 Well…your amusing account has prompted me to write up something about Mardi Gras celebrations here in Southwest France. It wasn’t quite the carnival of Mobile, New Orleans or even Venice and Rio, but we definitely enjoyed a very French version! PS: I like your new blog template.

        • Kim Holloway March 10, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

          Thanks! I will definitely let you know if I’m headed that way!!

          I look forward to reading about how the French celebrate Mardi Gras!

          Glad you like the new template. I’m still working out the kinks…

  4. Karen cronacher March 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    Kim, you know how parking is the bane of my existence here in Seattle. So my first thought at seeing the revelers on Bourbon street was, I bet it’s really hard to find a parking spot! Thanks for sharing the downside of the party, I think I’ll skip it.

    • Kim Holloway March 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

      I didn’t even think to address the parking situation, seeing as it’s always a nightmare in N.O. The upside is that you don’t really need a car if you’re staying in the French Quarter. N.O. is one of the most walkable cities I’ve ever visited. Nary a hill in sight.

  5. Renee Mason March 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I so look forward to your posts, but at the end of this one you gave me a wee little giftie. Your question of what did you ever catch at Mardi Gras caused me to remember a crazy college trip…check out Friday’s blog! Keep the giggles coming!!!

    • Kim Holloway March 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

      Thanks, Renee! I look forward to reading your story!

  6. Reba Jacobs March 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    I’ve never been to a real Mardi Gras party, but the way you described it had me rolling with laughter. You definitely have a gift for writing. I remember that my grandparents had genuine Mardi Gras beads and coins that we played with at their house. I hope Grandma didn’t do anything scandalous to get them.

    • Kim Holloway March 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm #


      I prefer to think that your grandma just asked nicely. 🙂

  7. Debbie March 10, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    I rode a Mardi Gras float when I lived along the Gulf Coast, and I’ve gotta say, it’s more fun than fighting those grabby crowds. There’s such POWER in hearing ’em cry out, “Throw me something, Mister!” and knowing you can just kind of ignore them, hehehe!

    • Kim Holloway March 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

      I’ve only ridden on a float once or twice, and I have to say it’s far more fun than standing on the sidelines. (But isn’t that true of all things in life?) Alas, I’ve only ridden in Christmas parades and didn’t get to throw things.


  1. Mardi Gras and the Heebie Jeebie Motel #38 « Pooter and Booger's Place - March 11, 2011

    […] people like” for pushing this long-buried memory to the surface when she posed the question “What’s the best thing you’ve ever caught at Mardi Gras? No STD stories […]

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