Mardi Gras is my absolute favorite time of the year. The smells of burgers and chicken wings sizzling on the grills, the smell of jambalaya and gumbo simmering in the cast iron pots, the sounds of King Kooker burners heating up the crawfish pots, children, laughing, and street vendors calling out, “Hats! Clickers! Glow Toys!”. It is the one time of year that we come together as a city. We all have one thing in common. The love for a big party and big beads. Whether it is a party with a family atmosphere or a little bit on the wild side, it is a time for traditions. It is a time when we all come together with great appreciation for costumes, beads, parades and King Cakes.
We own a home that is one block off of the St. Charles Avenue parade route. This allows us to invite all of our friends over to catch all of the parades on the biggest weekend of the season, the weekend before Mardi Gras Day. But, the excitement begins way before that weekend. We all cook and we cook a lot. The first step is getting a list together of what everyone is bringing from the drinks to the food. We have everything from water to jello shots (yes), chipsand muffalettas to pastalaya (it is just like jambalaya but with pasta instead of rice). I always try to throw in some fruit here and there, but the Nonna Randazzo King Cake usually beats out the fruit. Can’t blame a girl for trying…
Next, we shop. We shop for food, clothes (always trying to out do each other and our outfits of choice from the year before), decorations, and household necessities (i.e., tp, paper towels, hand soap, cups, ibuprofen, first aid, paper plates, etc.). Once the shopping is complete then we head to the house, to unload, decorate and organize.
Once we have completed the shopping we lay down floor protection in our house. This year we decided to follow our Lowe’s salesman’s advice and use Ram Board to cover our floors. This floor protection tough and durable. It is a heavy duty temporary floor covering that protected our floors completely from all of the elements and hard soled shoes. The price was very reasonable, $29.98/roll. We only needed 1.5 rolls which covered the walking paths to the kitchen and all of the bathrooms (approximately 225 sqft). We even had a couple of hours of rain here and there and my floors stayed dry! We secured the the Ram Board with 3M Self Release Painters Tape . The tape stayed put even in our humid environment! After we finished with the flooring I hung up my friendly reminder signs in the bathroom and kitchen regarding where and where not to dispose of items.
On the Wednesday before Mardi Gras weekend, all of the dads brought their family’s ladders to store at our home so that they would not have to bring them and dump them quickly on the day of parades (parking is very limited). We also use as many as we can to hold our spot on the parade route. Yes, you heard me correctly, we hold our spot. Beginning on Wednesday morning around 3 a.m. our dads show up and walk to St. Charles to find the perfect spot on the neutral ground side. (For those of you who do not know what I am referring to: The neutral ground side refers to what other states call the median. It is the neutral area between the two directions of traffic. It is also the area where our streetcar line runs.). The trick here is that the streetcar doesn’t stop running for Mardi Gras until Thursday afternoon. So when staking out your spot it is very important to remember not to block the track. In order to make sure that you have sufficient space for all of your people you must put items such as, ladders, chairs, tables, folded tents on the ground space in front of the tracks, in the middle of the two separate tracks and behind the tracks. Then the dads take turns staying at the house and checking on our spot beginning Wednesday until Sunday. That’s called dedication!
On the day of the first parade we hand out keys to our housed gate to a few of our close friends. This way there is always someone available to walk others back to the house for a bathroom run. When we arrive for the first parade the folding tents are set up, the chairs are set up, the tables and food are set up, but most importantly the ladders are set up. The ladders are for the sole purpose of catching the best beads. When children are small their parents either purchase or build a seat that bolts to the top of the ladder. The seat has a bar that goes across the front to help keep them safe. Some parents have seat belts added as well. The parents of the children stand behind their children to help them yell, “Throw me something’ mister!” and help catch their loot. I love the ladders because it gives me the perfect birds eye view for great photos! We our very excited to have been invited to join the Krewe of Tucks and that next Mardi Gras season we will be riding on our favorite parade day! If you see me, let me know and I will throw you somethin’ for sure! Happy Mardi Gras Y’all!