What is the best part about living in New Orleans besides the food, the culture, and the music? The time where it all comes together for the greatest free party on earth: Mardi Gras. Although I do not have to travel to experience this celebration, many people travel from around the world to bear witness to the delicious debauchery that can only be experienced in the Big Easy on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.
On the Saturday before Fat Tuesday, the largest, most elaborate parade rolls on the longest parade route through the heart of the city. According to mardigrasneworleans.com, “The Krewe of Endymion is one of the three Super Krewes. Super Krewes are defined by their stunning use of visuals and floats laced with brand new technology and celebrity Grand Marshals. Their parade has become one of the largest of the eighty parades during Mardi Gras. It is so popular that locals and those in the know begin saving their viewing spots in the early morning hours, even though the parade doesn’t happen until the evening. Endymion gets its name from the figure of Greek mythology, the most handsome of men and the god of youth and fertility. First parading in 1967, Endymion quickly emerged as one of Carnival’s ‘Super-Krewes’ in 1974 with the inclusion of more floats and celebrity guests.”
I attended Endymion this year with several (adult) friends for a night of wild and crazy fun! I did not bring my good camera as I did not really want to document our shenanigans, but we did take a few pics with our phones.
If there is one parade that I make sure to attend every year, it’s Zulu. I enjoy attending Zulu with my children because it is the only major Mardi Gras krewe in which they will see many riders who look like them. Zulu is a historically-black organization which was formed, like many historically black entities, because African-Americans were excluded from the other krewes during Reconstruction. Zulu is a tradition for my family as is trying to top our count every year for the most coveted throw of the entire Mardi Gras season, the Zulu coconut!
According to their website, “Early in 1909, a group of laborers who had organized a club named “The Tramps,” went to the Pythian Theater to see a musical comedy performed by the Smart Set. The comedy included a skit entitled, “There Never Was and Never Will Be a King Like Me,” about the Zulu Tribe…
That is how Zulu began, as the many stories go…”
My Zulu ritual includes frying chicken in the morning and packing plenty of snacks and drinks for my family. If there is any advice I can give for the brave souls who take in parades on Fat Tuesday, it’s this: BRING FOOD. Not only because you will be hungry, but mainly because you will be surrounded by cookouts, crawfish boils and much more to fill the air with hunger-inducing fragrances. Don’t say you were not warned.
The best part of Mardi Gras is the people, hands-down. I love spending time with my family, friends and meeting fabulous strangers in the streets. If you do not live in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is definitely bucket-list material. I consider it a great privilege to have it happening in my own backyard. Laissez les bon temps roulez!