I was young when I married Pop-Pop. I wasn’t able to legally purchase or consume alcohol so my first experience with New Orleans (his hometown) was all about family and food. We didn’t visit the French Quarters or go Uptown. We pretty much stayed in the Lower 9th Ward or went “over the River” to Auntie Barbara ‘nem or in the East to stay by Teedie Margie.
I was introduced to the most amazing Po’boy sandwiches and King Cakes and beignets from Cafe Du’Monde and chickory coffee and drive through daiquiri shops (my husband WAS legal). And, baby, let me tell you. Them Griffins. They cook, baby! Once Uncle Lloyd steps into the kitchen it is over, and it doesn’t even matter what he cooks. New Orleans is a place that shows love in the food.
So fast forward and I’m past my 21st birthday and ready to take on New Orleans and Mardi Gras in all of her glory. I’ve read about it. I know that New Orleans isn’t the oldest celebrated Mardi Gras Carnival celebrated in North America, Mobile is. I also know that no matter who started it, New Orleans put their stamp on it.
The Mardi Gras Indians have to be one of my favorite parts of the entire Mardi Gras Experience. I love to hear them chanting and singing with their brown faces and bright eyes. I love t0 see the children participating in the culture. Auntie Elaine, Auntie Barbara, and Cousin Christine make that needle sing!!! You have to understand that every single tiny little detail is hand sewn onto these amazing costumes with love. They hold practices together and are a family. I could literally write an entire blog about the Mardi Gras Indians (and I will after Super Sunday) but as an outsider, I would have to urge everyone to seek out the Indians when you come to visit for Mardi Gras.
The Parades. Where do I begin? Zulu, Rex, Endymion, NOMTOC, Bachus, Orpheus, Morpheus, Proteus, Iris, Tucks, d’Etat, Hermes. We love the Uptown parades (and NOMTOC on the Westbank). I had NO IDEA that Mardi Gras parades were a family affair. It is so much fun to see the children shouting “hey mister, throw me something mister” as they smile and laugh with glee at the neat trinkets tossed to them from the intricate parade floats. Families are grilling and eating and drinking and enjoying a good time together. The spirit of New Orleans is on full display.
Although we’ve been married 23 years and I’ve made New Orleans my second home, I’ve only been to the French Quarters during Mardi Gras one time in my entire life. I said one time was enough and I never had to do it again. LOL! I love the French Quarters but the sheer crowds of people give me anxiety. I’m not accustomed to not having any personal space whatsoever. 25 year old me wasn’t ready for New Orleans Mardi Gras in the French Quarters. This year 40 something-year-old me is going to give it another try. I’ll be back to let you all know how it went.
We hit New Orleans March 1, 2019, and the celebration will wrap up on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), March 5, 2019. If you aren’t with us on this adventure, you’re missing out. Make sure you check out the Upcoming Adventures on the website frequently so that you don’t get left.