First Mardi Gras

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans is on many people’s bucket list, including my own, and I proudly got to cross it off my list after a vibrant weekend of parades.

From exotic outfits and amazing music to catching pounds of beads, I can honestly say it was the best festival I have ever attended.

At first, I was not sure what to expect besides a million beads being thrown from elaborately decorated floats. However, the experience was much weirder than that; a good kind of weird.

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As I was getting ready to embark on my first ever Mardi Gras parade, I was told to

“wear what ever you want,” because apparently no matter what I pulled out of my closet, it was not going to be the weirdest thing on St. Charles Avenue.  So I donned my purple, green and gold and hit the streets, luckily getting a front row spot minutes before the floats meandered down the street. As I was walking around, neighbors high-fived neighbors and random acts of kindness made sure everyone was having a great time.

The crowd’s enthusiasm about watching the marching bands and catching all of the desirable beads started to vibrate through me, and being from a sporty, competitive family, I thought to myself, “It’s on.”

As the floats passed one-by-one, more people began to crowd the parade line, and eventually I was bumping shoulders with a couple of friendly neighbors on every side of me. But that changed rather quickly.

I did not think about this before the festivities, but I have a unique advantage over the average person when it comes to Mardi Gras as a 6-foot-4 individual. With the hands of a tight end, I was snagging anything and everything within arm’s reach, and the excitement of my first ever Mardi Gras overtook my generosity for others. It was a free-for-all. As I began to catch more and more beads, I began to lose enthusiasm for them, wanting to catch bigger things like stuffed animals and other miscellaneous items. Well eventually, a stuffed Minion from the movie “Despicable Me” flew into my vicinity and I hurdled over a crowd of arms to latch on to my first ever stuffed animal Mardi Gras catch. As I celebrated with my friends, I saw a child a few feet away from me in the front row and gave it to him. I had accomplished what I wanted to do, and what was a 24-year-old going to do with a stuffed Minion?

Kindness is contagious and I am glad I got to experience Mardi Gras with a great group of friends and a great city filled with loving neighbors.