Mardi Gras is a huge tradition down in New Orleans, Louisiana, that draws hundreds of thousands of people to the city for the celebratory weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. I had always told myself and my friends that I would never go, but John and I recently had a blast at Mardi Gras in Mobile, and my friends pestered me to join them for weeks. I was sold.
Our host friend’s house was just off of Tchoupitoulas Street and practically on the parade route, so we didn’t have to go far to see the Mardi Gras action. Our hosts had been invited to a neighbor’s tent, so shortly after we arrived Friday night, we were walking down the street to enjoy some drinks and music before the parades.
I discovered that the only people excited to see the approaching Krewe of Morepheus were those of us who had yet to experience Mardi Gras. We had a blast making fools of ourselves to be showered with beads, toys, and trinkets. We all agreed that the marching bands--when they were actually performing--were our favorite.
Our group went from seven strong to only three almost instantly after arriving to Bourbon Street. My two girlfriends and I went to The Beach in hopes of finding the rest of our friends. We searched but couldn’t find them in the crowd. Naturally, we had a drink and started dancing.
We found our group later that night as they were calling an Uber to go home. My girlfriends and I hadn’t had enough, so we stayed and danced until nearly two in the morning. There was nothing afterward that could’ve been more satisfying than a greasy but delicious slice of pizza from the nearest daiquiri bar pizza.
Miraculously, everyone was feeling well during breakfast the next morning. We enjoyed La Boulangerie from the front porch of our friend’s house and watched the parade crews get their floats ready. Once we had finished our meals, we followed the crowd until we were back in the same spot we had been the night before.
The Krewe of Iris was approaching, but so was the rain. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay at this parade for long, but it allowed us time to plan our next move.
We knew that we wanted to head to Mid-City to see the Krewe of Endymion and meet up with some more friends from college. The rain continued to pour, but luckily, we had a friend drive us to the parade to meet our friends. We claimed a spot right on St. Charles Street for the Krewe of Endymion’s parade.
The Krewe of Endymion’s was by far the best parade we saw in New Orleans. Some floats had full-blown LED screen displays.This Krewe must spend thousands of dollars on their floats. The floats were extravagant and the queens who rode them fit right in.
The Queens wear these massive headdresses called collars that have to be wired to the actual float so that the Queen doesn’t topple over. Their dresses alone cost upwards of $10,000. The pressure to not sweat must be unbearable! The parade goes on for hours; I can’t imagine what it’s like to be unable to move for over six hours.
The parade was nowhere near over, but we decided to leave the parade around 6 PM when the rain picked up again.
We Ubered down to Frenchmen’s Street so that we could hit up some bars after we ate.We picked Adolfo’s above The Apple Barrel Bar. After sharing a plate of buttery clams, the five of us who remained ordered the same delicious fish entrée and were put into a food coma. We somehow managed to pick ourselves up from the table, move across the street to Café Negril, and listen to some live reggae music.
Two more broke off from the group, and the same two girls from the night before and I were somehow the only ones out, but this didn’t stop us from continuing the party. The balcony at The Blue Nile was calling our name, and when we got to the stairwell, we heard live jazz and knew we had picked a great place. Sadly, this was our last stop for the Mardi Gras weekend. Once the band stopped, we decided to stop too.
The next morning was a quick shuffle out the door to beat the 11 AM parade that would block off our road home. We said our goodbyes over leftover king cake and packed up our bags. I feel like I enjoyed my first New Orleans Mardi Gras experience so much because it was spent with really great friends and because it was raining, which tamed the crowds dramatically.
Our weekend was nothing as crazy as I had mentally prepared for! I think this lighter weekend has prepared me for the craziness that is every other year and convinced me that I could come back for a “real” Mardi Gras.