Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Throwing Stuff At People

Click Here For More Images From Mardi Gras 2009

After a weeklong orgy of food, music, stories, sore legs and photography I realized that Mardi Gras is not what I expected. I imagined Mardi Gras to be booze and bare breasts with thousands of people behaving badly. I have learned that Mardi Gras is a fun celebration that binds family and community together via tradition, stories and the sharing outrageous fun of the Mardi Gras parades.

One of my favorite memories from my childhood in Detroit was the Thanksgiving Day Christmas parade. Now imagine a city that has not one parade but dozens. Each parade has its unique roots and route. I watched in awe as dozens and dozens of marching bands and floats rode colorfully by. I watched in amazement has thousands of well behaved people lined the streets in a community wide celebration.

History tells us the in late 18 century France the aristocrats paraded around Paris tossing out food to the hungry peasants in honor of Mardi Gras. In New Orleans instead of food it is beads, umbrellas, stuff toys, fake coins and for the lucky few, a painted coconut.

Who knew it could be so much fun to dress up, drive around and throw stuff at people but fun is what Mardi Gras is about. I watched as kids from troubled neighborhoods reached out, screamed, and begged in delight for somebody to toss a bead their way. I saw the same child like joy in the VIP stands with the rich matrons of old money New Orleans.

In Mardi Gras, all in New Orleans becomes united by joy of an old tradition kept alive by sheer fun. Mardi Gras does not make sense until you live it and living it is definitely worth the trip.

More pictures on Monday.


Zave Smith

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