Laissez les bons temps rouler

We made our reservations for this fall in New Orleans for Tulane Parents weekend and for next year’s Carnival. We really liked out B&B on Saint Charles, the Mandevilla, and will be going back there. 2012 will be our third Mardi Gras in a row and I’m already looking forward to it.

Last Mardi Gras was pretty much off the hook. The only downside is we don’t get to see Lee as much as we’d like – he’s hanging too much with his friends to meet up with his parents.

A photographer shot him and had his picture go out over the AP wire and it showed up all over the web and in a few real newspapers. I guess it’s pretty cool to have your photograph gracing a blog that asks the question, “Are there any Mardi Gras Celebrations in North Idaho?.” It seems the answer is “Yes!” but I’ll stick to New Orleans for this year at least.

Here are some great Carnival photographs – Lee is about two thirds of the way down.

The downside to Mardi Gras in the Big Easy is that it is a logistical nightmare. I’m already thinking of strategies and resources to be able to get around… places to go, people to see, and things to do.

I do need to get over my bad habit of grabbing too many beads. I had a bit of a panic attack and almost strangled myself trying to get them off of my neck and over my head in an Italian Restaurant at two in the morning. They were so thick and tangled I was trapped. Candy told me, “Just cut them off!” – which was good advice but I couldn’t do it. They may have been cheap plastic beads made in China – but they were Mardi Gras beads, caught from a parade. I can’t cut them off.

Instead of beads, my favorite throw are the doubloons. These are cheap metal coins thrown from the parade floats. There are nice ones – collectors items, given to friends of the Krewes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. They are sometimes pretty hard to get, harder to catch than a string of beads, and the Krewes are a bit more stingy with the doubloons. I did learn one trick is to run up to the marshal, usually in a convertible at the head of the parade, and he’ll hand you a doubloon.

This year, Orpheus and Endymion ran back to back and we had a nice spot near the start of the parades, down on Napoleon Street, almost to Tchoupitoulas – right behind Tipatina’s. Some of the folks that lived there gave me a couple handful of doubloons, including some from previous years and other Krewes.

I’ve never been a collector of things, and I’ll never collect doubloons, but I like my growing pile of aluminium coins, they remind me of Mardi Gras. Here are a few:

Mardi Gras Doubloons

A few aluminum doubloons from Mardi Gras Parades. Krewes: Orpheus, Carrollton, Morpheus, Endymion, D’Etat, Iris, Elks,Tucks, Thoth

I saw on Ebay, on the web, that you can buy piles of doubloons, but that’s not the same. They have to come from a parade. There’s a real excitement… hard to explain – standing in that huge crowd, shoulder to shoulder with a million strangers, ears ringing from the roar of the bands and the crowd, everyone yelling at the massive gaudy floats, desiring these worthless trinkets that come flying through the air. The arc of the flight, the leap, the grab.

You feel like a little kid again.