Does anything say family vacation like Mardi Gras?! We’ve done Disney, Yellowstone, Banff and Nova Scotia, but the French Quarter in February just may be the piece de resistance in family fun!
We arrived in Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon, and spent some quality time with Doug’s grandparents. doug’s been working on a computer program for his grandfather, and he wanted to test out “phase 1.” On Sunday we headed off to church, and then for little drive through the old neighborhood. After the old neighborhood we went through some very deluxe new neighborhoods that weren’t around when Doug was growing up. He also showed me his old elementary school.
Doug’s brother Scott and his family came drove up from New Orleans on Sunday night, and the boys watched the Superbowl together. Aimee and I checked out computer sites and played with the kids.
Monday was lundi gras which obviously is the precursor to mardi gras ( I had no idea about any of this. At my house Shrove Tuesday meant nothing more than pancakes for supper!). This was our parade day. For those of you who don’t know, mardi gras is not just Tuesday. It’s a whole week or two of activities, and they take place all over. We were going to attend the Orpheus parade and whatever one came right before it.
We drove into New Orleans after a quick stop for some Popeye’s Fried Chicken. I was a little paranoid about having my kids around all the craziness but it wasn’t at all like I thought … until later! For the parade we parked at a local high school for the bargain price of $25, but it was a deal because it included the use of the faculty restrooms.
After a very stern lecture to Samuel about the importance of holding hands we made our way one block to St. Charles street. This was the very beginning of the parade route. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’ve seen some specials about spring break at mardi gras, but here we were there were a whole lot of families. In fact, I think Scott’s bishop was just a few feet from us with his family. I think that makes it an acceptable FHE! Unless of course you include the little girl asleep in the wagon next to us who is wrapped up around a bottle of Crown Royal!
So, the first float approaches; it’s all very exciting. Doug boosts Samuel onto his shoulders. Doug catches his first throw and hands the beads to Samuel. Then, that’s it; my son officially became a bead freak! All I hear is , “throw me something mister” and “I want some beads. Give me some beads, please.” He’s yelling at the top of his lungs, and is very impressed with how much stuff he gets. He received many many beads and a beanie baby from Salt n’ Pepa, that’s right people, there were celebrities present. Later on in the evening I received some beads from Helio of Dancing with the Stars. I’m never parting with those! Also, I learned later that Orpheus is Harry Connick jr.’s parade, so part of me hopes that he was there, and I didn’t see him because he was in a mask.
After a couple of hours at the parade Scott and Aimee took our kids to their place so that we could go to the french quarter. Doug thought that it was important that I have the full experience so that I could make an informed decision. Well, no I’m informed, unfortunately my eyes are still burning! Here are a few lessons that I learned in the adult part of mardi gras:
1. No matter how well it’s done, body paint does not replace clothing.
2. Just because there’s someone dressed up like Elmo does not mean that children should approach.
3. Apparently liquor makes makes some very unattractive things bead-worthy.
4. Just because there’s a group there to “save your soul” does not mean that they won’t sneak a peak.
5. You should wear a pair of shoes that you’re ready to throw in the trash.
6. Mardi gras beads have a magical power all there own.
I cannot tell you how many girls I saw dancing for some plastic finery who had absolutely no problem being video taped or photographed. It was very disturbing. Apparently the place wasn’t even all that busy, but it was total insanity to me. When I think mardi gras, it’s usually in a spring break girls gone wild kind of way. I usually fell a little old for this kind of thing. Well, let me tell you, you’re never too old at mardi gras. Let me clarify, I am too old, but there were lots of women who should have been home with there grandchildren, who were instead taking off their tops for beads. Not pretty.
After touring Soddom and Gomorrah we headed back to Scott and Aimee’s for some King Cake. She replaced the usual cream cheese filling with cherry pie filling. As Dora’s backpack would say, “Mmm mmm mmm, delicioso!”
So, here’s my informed opinion: I think the parades, in the right neighborhoods, are completely family appropriate. I think some parades are better than others, but there’s usually a whole run down in the paper and on the internet. The french quarter however is appropriate for no one. Stay away, far far away!