Skydiving, rock climbing, climbing to the top of the Swiss Alps, skiing down a black diamond were all exciting, but were not comparable to the 3 hours I rode in the Krewe of Eve last night. Though I continue to preach to people that they must experience Mardi Gras at least once in their life, my words (though I am a decent writer), could never duplicate the experience one gets while a parade passes them by and they scream for a stupid bead or cheap carnival toy or what my ride was truly like. Some of it is the crowd mentality that brings out the energy in you, but there is also something mysterious that weaves itself into the spirit in the air. Sure, there is a ton of alcohol involved, but Carnival is truly a family event.
You probably will never understand why someone would pay at least $1,000 to ride in a parade and purchase items to throw into a crowd of strangers and adorable children. Riding in a Krewe is an experience, a year round social group, whose purpose is to achieve the success of the parade day, while developing bonds with other Krewe members. Many of the Krewes also do charitable things throughout the year and most Krewes are made up of upstanding community members. The Krewe of Eve is an all women’s parade, and you especially become close to the women riding on your float. Yes, a social club that you buy into but so much more.
The day of the parade began with the Queen and Kings’ breakfast and was followed by the loading of the floats. This is where you take the $500 or more of items you have purchased and place them in your designated area. Usually you set up at that time too, but with the threat of a possible rain cancellation, many of us held off until later in the day. We returned in the early afternoon party that was thrown by the Queen and there was music, food and dancing. BYOB, so this is when the partying really begins. Now was the time to get your area all situated for the ride and to get organized the best you can. There was also an opportunity to trade the “float beads” you purchased with other float riders. I was quick to unload the “clown” medallion I had and trade up for some very cool beads to add to my collection.
When it was time to roll, there was a felling of nervousness and excitement and yes, I had a good buzz going too. There was a “no throw zone” until we hit a certain point and then it just happens. Feeling like a rock star who everyone wants, the crowd screams and yells for you to throw them something. Hands in the air, children on shoulders and ladders, people wearing crazy costumes to get your attention and you doing your best to pace yourself so you don’t throw out everything too fast. Of course, it is obvious that the crowd is not screaming for you, but are in their “Mardi Gras mentality” and doing what is expected on their side while we are playing Santa for a few hours. It actually gets pretty exhausting as the parade goes on and you constantly have to fix your beads, drink your alcohol *grin*, smile, dance to the music and throw stuff out (who woulda thunk). When it was all over, all I can tell you is that I will be saving my money to do it next year. It is a rush, a thrill ride that also brings so much joy to people in my community.
Last night I also thought about the Mardi Gras that Soldiers’ Angels was able to share with 700 men and women in Iraq this year and hope they get some joy out of all the items they received. Mardi Gras has something over this community and the people that have experienced that you will never understand until you experience it yourself. There is still time to come this year – if not – See you next Mardi Gras season!!!