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

12 Feb

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.

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

  1. Hippie Cahier February 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Mardi Gras in New Orleans sounds like post-game on the club level at FedEx Field after Redskins owner Dan Snyder opened what used to be a nice place into a drunken free-for-all. Not that I’m bitter. The ladies restroom is nicer than a port-a-potty, though, Enjoy your celebration, whatever it might be.

    • Kim Holloway February 14, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      After attending one sad Mardi Gras celebration in Seattle, I’ve opted out. However, I did buy myself a couple of wee pies from a food truck down the street.

  2. vintageyall February 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Good grief…you even know about the baby! My former boss was a New Orleans native who loves Mardi Gras. He even flew our small office staff down for the parades one year. (1 day round trip from Dallas). And when we didn’t go, he’d fly in King Cakes. I never got the baby in my slice, but when my office mate wasn’t looking, I took her’s and taped it to my computer monitor. Stolen luck, I guess, but all in fun. Mardi Gras, wow, there is not bigger party.

    And as for ” threw me something”? I got a big toss in the forehead once that nearly knocked me out. Ya gotta be careful, as you never know what they might threw.

    • Kim Holloway February 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      That’s funny, at my last job in Mississippi, I had a king cake baby on my desk. I believe mine was confiscated from a co-worker as well.

  3. Hope February 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Big huge hugs to you from the Alabama Gulf Coast where we carry a huge chip on our shoulder about the origins of Mardi Gras! It’s pouring rain today on Fat Tuesday, but the beads and Moon Pies are still pouring down too!

    Best thing I’ve caught? Big loud horns like the ones used at European soccer games have been popular this year. I caught one last night, and promptly gave it to a kid who does not live in my house! I’ll stick with Moon Pies.

    • Kim Holloway February 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      Love that you passed the horn on to a kid who doesn’t live in your house. I just learned this year about moon pies being thrown. How did I never know this? Next time I do Mardi Gras, it’ll be in Alabama!

  4. Joe February 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    I went to Mardi Gras a couple of times in New Orleans and it is a “not-to-be-missed” experience but then I moved to Mobile…actually I lived there twice…and I much prefer Mobile. Not as many annoying tourist but still fun and much easier to enjoy. You also have a much easier chance at getting an invite to one of the better balls…the most fun was always the Order of Osiris. The best thing that I ever caught was a huge plastic bag full of banana moon pies…probably 100 or more…that a friend threw to me from the Maids of Mirth float. She almost knocked me down but caught it. And then passed them out to all the kids. We love the beads but don’t be surprised to hear the crowd in Mobile chant, “moon pie, moon pie, moon pie!”

    • Kim Holloway February 14, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      Man, what a coup! Giant bag o’ moon pies is an awesome catch. Way better than beads or doubloons.

  5. Lauren February 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    I definitely got hit in the head this past weekend by a giant plastic cigar. That was a new one for me.

    I’m a photographer, and I quickly realized that (at least in Pascagoula, MS) holding my camera to my face got me more moon pies and beads than my non-camera-carrying counterparts. Good to know.

    Speaking of moon pies, do you know when/how those got involved in Mardi Gras? I had missed that memo.

    • Kim Holloway February 14, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll be sure to bring a camera next time! I’m not sure how the moon pies got involved, but I think they’re an awesome addition to any parade or festive occasion.

  6. Barbara February 13, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    This weekend in Galveston TX, I snatched from the sky a pearl and bead necklace with a big dangling “diva” fob. How’d they know?!? My first reflex is to duck when things are thrown at me.

    • Kim Holloway February 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

      Awesome! I agree about the ducking, unless there are goodies involved.

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