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Yes, that is a question I received from a friend on Facebook (Greta Perry if you want to be my friend) last night.

My Answer: “I am living Mardi Gras.”

Unless you grew up here or lived here through Mardi Gras season (this is my second one), you really can’t grasp what it is (I learn something new every day). Growing up in the Boston area, I can truly say that I NEVER learned about Mardi Gras. I learned about Pilgrims until I was blue in the face and visited Plymouth Rock (big yawn), but nope – no Mardi Gras stuff. We didn’t have school on Evacuation Day or Patriot’s Day which is the day of the Boston Marathon. But I assure you, We DID NOT have the week of Mardi Gras off.

Let me explain what I have learned, in idiot terms (the only terms I understand – and hey – I still may be wrong on some things, but this is my current interpretation & I am too lazy to do tons of research). Mardi Gras is a culture that runs deep here it effects the people here all year long!

*** Parades: People are honored to be part of parade “Krewe.” A “Krewe” is kind of like a homecoming float team to the rest of the world. With the exception of the children’s and dog parade, the team is made up of grown-ups (I use that term loosely bwahahaha). They plan the parades all year round and get together for several events throughout the year with the “Ball” falling sometimes before the parade (we have ours tonight). The parade finally happens and then they start all over again. Oh ya, and this ain’t free my friends, these are hard earned dollars spent to make this happen. $2,000 is nothing to ride in a parade. And in the case of the rain last night, the parades are postponed and they “roll” at a future date. For example, the Krewe of Eve was supposed to take place last night, but due to rain, will roll on Monday – same time, same place. A hard year’s work will not go to waste because of a rainy day.

As for the number of parades, I counted 88 on the schedule I have. They take place on different days and different locations throughout the greater New Orleans area. And as for Fat Tuesday – that is the last day – no more after that (tourists have goofed on that one I hear). It is not a one month drunkfest with boobs flying everywhere, it is an event fun for the whole family. For the college kid, it may be a drunkfest limited to the French Quarter and barely making a parade but hanging out in bars, but to the rest of the world, it is fun for young and old. I would soooo encourage families to make this a yearly trip! Your kids will have a blast!

***Food: Well, this place can make you put on 10 pounds just by staring at a restaurant. But, during Mardi Gras “season” there are King Cakes. They can be found in every classroom and workplace in the area. Whoever gets the plastic baby previously placed in their piece of King Cake is supposed to bring the next cake. They are kind of like a cinnamon bun in a circle with sticky frosting and optional fillings inside. They are decorated in the colors of green, gold and purple (like everything else during the season). I am convinced that if you never sit down and cut yourself a piece and just pick and pick, you won’t gain weight from them (bwahahaha).

*** School age kids: They learn about Mardi Gras, do projects and math sheets based on it. They have little parades at school. They enjoy the last week of Mardi Gras season as a vacation. My 7 yo has a giant rat puppet on a string of beads that we painted brown and put orange buck teeth on for her “learn about a state animal and make a Mardi Gars throw” project. Oh ya, it is supposed to be a Nutria, which we still think are cute.

So my friends, if you are here, you know what I am talking about. If you have a college-aged kid here, they are hanging in the French Quarter at the bars enjoying a crowd and probably not going to many parades. If you are a visiting family, you have the schedule and guide out and know where you should go next to see the best band or parade. Everyone will have a unique experience, but I can say I speak for everyone here, “You will have a wonderful time” and this is one thing you should experience before you die! The Princess of Positive has spoken!

(this post can be enjoyed on NOLA.com and my personal blog with lots of extra goodies “lagniappe”)

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