Mardi Gras is early this year with Krewe du Vieux kicking things off on January 31st. I’m still eating treats from my Christmas stocking but it’s already time for King Cake. I had my first slice at Sucre on the afternoon of Twelfth Night. Throughout the rest of the country, people are taking tinsel of trees and setting them by the curb while here in New Orleans, many of us convert Christmas trees to Mardi Gras trees.
My first year here, the only ornaments I had were ones I cut from construction paper and a few pretty harlequin masks I’d made from Sculpey clay. It’s 5 years later and I’m running out of branches to hold all the Krewe medallions, toys and other treats I’ve caught from parade floats. Carnival Historian and float designer, Henri Schindler said of Carnival, “It never ends. For the entire year, you’re either preparing for it, experiencing it or remembering it.” Decorating the tree, I relive parades past while preparing for the coming onslaught.
Tonight, I start “experiencing” Carnival again as The Pussyfooters host our annual Blush Ball benefitting METRO, a non-profit supporting victims of domestic violence. We’ll be debuting our new uniforms and dancing up a storm as we “party with a purpose.” When I moved here, Mardi Gras was a something I attended. Now, I’m a part of it dancing in several parades. I don’t get to catch as many treats for the tree, but I collect memories I never thought I’d have. I don’t take as many photos because now I’m busy being in parade-goer’s photos. I couldn’t have guessed all the ways I’d become part of New Orleans’ culture when I moved here but dressing up in a fancy costume to dance through the streets while people smile and wave is certainly one of the most fun!