They've invited us to join them several years in a row now but we always find a reason to decline. How could we go to Mardi Gras? Isn't that where girls go wild and flash their boobies? Thanks but no thanks. Besides, what about our kids and pets and serious lack of costume closets (or, any closets, for that matter)? Nope. We're definitely not Mardi Gras material.
Late last week we suddenly found ourselves with nothing standing in the way of us going. My sister was going to be at our house already and could stay an extra night to watch the boys. Bill had points for one flight and a companion pass for another. Another good friend who lives in New Orleans had a room at his house for us to stay. All we really had to do was figure out costumes!
Since that's one of my favorite things (see: Halloween), I jumped at the chance to turn us into Party Vikings (the group's theme for this year). First I looked for things at home that could be repurposed (a dress, some cut off shorts, cozy boots, viking horns, a few accessories...), then I headed to Michael's for some fabric and supplies (gold duct tape, feathers, faux fur trims), then I went to every single Hair World on Gallatin Road to find the perfect Viking-esque wig.
I wasn't really sure what I was looking for but figured I'd know it when I saw it. Instead I window shopped for two hours, ended up at Party City and brought home a cheap Lady Gaga knock off.
What can I say? It's my first Mardi Gras.
As soon as we landed we were whisked away to a friend-of-a-friend's quintessential New Orleans house in the French Quarter (or was it the Marigny?). When we walked in everyone was either gathered around the kitchen table costuming or in the back yard turning a double stroller into a Viking ship float. The whole place smelled like glue gun and spray paint. I was in heaven.
We spent the rest of the day walking around, checking out bars and listening to live music. At one bar the lead "singer" was a clarinet player (like nothing I've ever heard). At another one it was $10 shot and a hair cut night and in the middle of a guy's beard trim a brass band walked in and started playing. Then a random parade (kind of like a flash mob) showed up in the street. No doubt about it - we were definitely in New Orleans!
The next morning (Fat Tuesday!) we woke up early to get ready for the parade. Yes - we got to be in a parade! It was one of the smaller flash mob style parades where tons of costumed people walk along a certain route (no idea how all this gets organized - we just followed our trusty hosts!). And guess what? I didn't see a single person flash their boobs! (I think that's more of a Bourbon Street thing - where we were, it's ALL about the costumes.)
A little more than halfway through the parade, one of the Party Vikings suggested we stop off at her parents' condo to warm up for a bit. We were greeted warmly by costumed parents, drinks and totally themed out Mardi Gras food (muffaletta sandwiches, king cake and a center piece with a better head piece than me!). I honestly didn't even know people like this existed. Now I know what I want to be like when I grow up.
We ended the parade at another friend's house (definitely in the French Quarter) with a sing-a-long dance party that almost thawed me out and totally warmed my heart.
Especially if we could figure out how to add a costume closet...