High hopes for Mardi Gras parade

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This Saturday will be my first Mardi Gras parade so I don’t know what to expect.

Last Sunday night, I had to go to Slidell and, as I drove along Gause Boulevard, I noticed police barricades lined the street. As far as I could see, to the left and right, plastic beads covered the ground.

They crunched beneath my tires and, in my headlights, gold and purple glittered dimly.

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The whole scene seemed like the aftermath of the happiest riot ever, as though a big bomb of euphoria had been let loose.

Then I remembered the Mardi Gras parade the day prior.

I asked a friend of mine about Picayune’s parade Saturday. I asked, “It starts at two, right?”

She said it does, but I’d want to get there earlier. How much earlier? Ten in the morning.

I asked if she was serious and she assured me she was. If I waited much longer, I was told, I’d not get a space at all.

Clearly, this is not a regular parade.

I am informed there is sort of a pregame ritual observed, wherein people line the course early and bring ice chests filled with drinks and snacks, grills and chairs.

I suppose I am not surprised. In the heart of the SEC, where tailgating is about as celebrated as the games themselves, I should have expected some pre-emptive entertainment like this.

Still, these parades sound distinct even from other parades in the region.

I have attended parades in New Orleans in the past, though never during Mardi Gras season.

I am looking forward to a trip down to see what all the fuss is about but, to be honest, I am even more thrilled for the chance to walk out the front door, walk down a few blocks, and set up and await the action.

See you on Saturday, and if you see me out, come say hello.