March 6 Editorial

This week in honor of Mardi Gras, my husband and I decided to make the trek to the mecca of all Mardi Gras shenanigans, New Orleans. Never one to like large crowds but always down for a good people watching session, I wasn’t sure if I was getting in over my head or about to embark on an unforgettable epic journey.
We rolled into town at noon and within minutes, we found parking in a parking deck with security. According to the parade schedule, it looked as if we had already missed the early morning parades, and the next one wasn’t scheduled for hours. As we turned the corner to head to Bourbon Street, I heard sirens blaring and realized that we were about to catch the beginning of a one of the parades that had been delayed earlier that morning by bad weather.
We casually stepped over to an empty spot along the railings, and began our quest for the “good” beads. Seconds later, the sky seemed as if it was raining colorful treats from the heavens. This is where it comes in handy to have a husband who is 6’5” as he blocked, grabbed, and snatched everything that came his way. When the parade was over, we had so many beads that we looked like Mr. T and Liberace’s love children.
Feeling accomplished that I had just checked off another box on my bucket list (attend a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans), we headed down Bourbon Street to see what all the fuss was about. We floated in and out of several open air bars, sipping specialty drinks and taking in the scenery.
For the most part, daytime revelers consisted of three groups; those who were merely there to watch the craziness unfold (I think we fell in to this group), the old perverts up on the balconies begging for every young girl to flash their chest for worthless beads, and the true blue freaks and weirdos who call New Orleans home.
Walking along, block after block, near elderly men would call down to me, “Come on baby, show ‘em to me.” To which I either responded, “You’re old enough to be my Grandpa,” “You first, paw paw,” or “Not a chance, gramps.” All of which seemed to get me more beads from the women watching than any of the men had to offer anyways. Girl power is cool. Keep fighting the good fight, sistas!
As we continued on, I was mesmerized by the street performers who ranged anywhere from head to toe painted silver robots to men in drag dancing in the streets. I even met a homeless hippy with a sign that read, “Help! I’m white trash and in trouble!” Five bucks and a few awesome pictures later, I had made a new friend.
We continued to party into the night with people from all walks of life. People who otherwise probably would've never cross paths. One thing was for sure, fun was had by all, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans is not to be missed.
On our way home, I started thinking. All of the strange and over the top people I had seen throughout the day would’ve been categorized as “freaks” in any other town, but in New Orleans, they’re just regular people. I think that’s pretty cool. Everyone needs a place where they can be themselves, and I love New Orleans for allowing people to let their freak flags fly.
Everyone we met was friendly, inviting, and just genuinely wanted us to have a good time. That’s what Mardi Gras is all about. Now granted, some people may not be as open minded to these people and their lifestyles as I am, but if you’re willing to give this city and its people a chance, you may just be surprised.
We are already planning our trip for next year, and I might just wave my flag a little bit!