It’s been a week since Carnival ended and I’m still winding down from my best and busiest Mardi Gras season ever! As always, I attended dozens of parades, caught throws and wore costumes but this year I was a Pussyfooter in 3 parades, even wearing my pink pride while riding with Quentin Tarantino in his Orpheus float. Experiencing the parades from the inside gave my insight into the work, love and commitment it takes to create the biggest party in the world and provide it to everyone for free. Bless the Krewes who pay for this extravaganza and the thousands of people who costume-up to throw beads, dance, play in bands, twirl batons, stilt walk, ride horseback, sling flambeau lamps, roller skate and otherwise entertain the masses.
The Krewe of Thoth parade is often called the “children’s parade” for it’s route passing in front of Children’s Hospital. It was a gorgeous day – one of the few despite Carnival’s late start date this year – so crowds were thick and cheerful. The route is reportedly 11 miles, longer than any other, but there’s something very energizing about bringing kids out to dance the Cupid Shuffle with us or handing a small Pussyfooter trinket over in exchange for a big smile. I beat my feet and my knees were tired but as we were rounding the last corner, I felt like I could have gone on for miles more.
Mardi Gras is like a perpetual motion machine. The paraders bring energy to the crowds and the crowds bring energy to the paraders. I loved the cheering and clapping, but the smiles were the gas for my tank. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to ride in another float, watch a parade from a Saint’s balcony (Thomas Morstead) or judge another Pole Greasing contest, but I will be back in my pink corset next year Pussyfooting with pride.
I was already enjoying my newfound sisterhood with over 100 amazing women over-30 but now I’m hooked on parading as a Pussyfooter. I especially love the people who know exactly what the Pussyfooters are and get excited to see us coming the second they see our corsets and combat boots – they clap and squeal and shout out their love for us. I used to be one of those people clapping and shouting, “The Pussyfooters are coming! It’s the Pussyfooters!” It made me feel happy just seeing them but I must admit, it feels even better to be one, to be scattering smiles like Mardi Gras beads and bringing joy to my city.
I’m very grateful to the Pussyfooters and to Orpheus and Quentin for affording me the opportunity to be a small cog in the giant wheel of Mardi Gras. I got to walk the same path thousand have paraded before me and leave a little glitter on the road. Once inside the heart of Carnival, it was so easy to see why we do this year after year. When you’re thinking of throwing a party, there is no better engine than love and no better fuel than smiles. It is the love for this city, its culture, its people, its traditions and history that push these parades down the road. It’s also about pride – pride for our city, our culture, our people, our traditions and history.
And let’s face it, it’s about drinking and dancing and flirting and dressing up and throwing money away on friends and strangers. Can you think of a better reason to throw a party? In New Orleans, we have festivals for everything from tomatoes to Tennessee Williams – we don’t need a reason to throw a party, just a date and location.
I still have little time for photo captions but enjoy shots from Thoth, Bacchus (which we left early when it had to stop for an injury), and a few favorites from other season highlights. (Special thanks to Sean Hardy of Whiskey 2-1 Studios for the great “watermarked” shots of the Pussyfooters at Thoth). I guess I should be grateful Mardi Gras Day was too cold and rainy to brave this year. I hated missing all the creative costumes but the streets were near empty and, after a 12 hour Lundi Gras with Orpheus, so was I. Locals know that Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint. What no one tells you is that Mardi Gras is a marathon done at the pace of a sprint.
But wait, is that St. Patrick I see in the distance? I love a parade!