By Christina, age 16, Louisiana
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
When you think of Mardi Gras, you think of beads. You think of Bourbon Street and king cakes, of a school holiday (in Louisiana, anyway), and the colors green, purple, and gold. You think of the February wind and the layers of clothing you'll need to wear, or perhaps the jam-packed lines into town due to road closures. Of course, road closures can only mean one thing - parades.
Boat parades, street parades, dog parades - you name it, they've paraded it. On February tenth, I attended my first real Mardi Gras parade in Mandeville, Louisiana. Not only was it cold, but it was crowded, noisy, and long. We waited between thirty minutes and an hour for it to start, and that was only after we had to buy four or five $10 blankets to shelter ourselves from the unforgiving wind. It was at least a ten minute walk to our place from the car and my legs had already begun to hurt.
Let me tell you - never have I had so much fun! It may have seemed unpleasant at first, but it was worth it, and enjoyable! Various road carts were always on the move with goodies and treats while two trucks in unison blared a country radio station for all to hear. Probably cheaply made and definitely overpriced, the toys for sale on the carts were still pleasing and pleasurable. If anything, they were good for one night, and even if they broke, most people there had enough pictures as keepsakes to substitute for the real thing. All in all, everyone seem pleased, regardless of how much our bones seemed to ache.
Parades in my home town are normally thirty to forty minutes long, so naturally that's what I went to Mandeville expecting. Even so, I enjoyed the beautiful floats, marching bands, and high school dance teams. Moreover, I enjoyed what little candy they threw, and last but not least, the beads.
The beads! Purple beads, yellow beads, red beads, and beads attached to eletronic light-up toys ... you certainly had your pick. Actually most of the time they picked you, landing on top of your head, or in my case my electronic bunny ears. Other popular crowd pleasers were boas, cups, and a variety of stuffed animals, although nothing quite caught up with the vast measure of beads - everywhere you looked, they seemed to look right back at you!
Many organizations had floats or other entries in the parade, including Clydesdale horses, motorcycles, and vehicles such as Hummers and Corvettes. They liked to throw in rarities too - once I saw a car that was about as big as me.
As for the floats, nothing else in those moments could provide a more accurate definition of the term beauty ... floats with every theme, from birds and rainbows to fountains. They ranged in size and creativity as greatly as the festival crowd. It was truly fun for the whole family. Their riders were a variety of ages. At least ten different generations sat atop those wooden seats!
Although my expectation was for a shorter parade, I soon realized that I couldn't have been more wrong. Once I'd put down my camera and climbed out of the back of our truck, time flew as if I were asleep. Before I knew it, nearly two hours had passed, and the festive crowds were thinning out. Disappointed but still having fun, I knew our time was coming to an end. Just as I had expected, the police cars signaling the end of our entertainment then passed by.
Fortunately there will be more parades for me this Mardi Gras season, and I intend to make the most of them with heaps of pictures, videos, and souvenirs. For those of you who have never attended a Mardi Gras parade or had the chance to visit southern Louisiana during this wonderful time of year, I highly recommend it!