I thought you guys might find the story of my son’s – and my – first Mardi Gras a little funny. You see, I’m a California native who moved to the Baton Rouge area in 2013. While I had heard of Mardi Gras before, I didn’t really get it. I mean, I knew about Fat Tuesday and that it was a day to indulge, but being that I’m not Catholic and I don’t celebrate Lent, I never felt the need to partake. That and the fact there are virtually no Mardi Gras celebrations on the west coast means I’d never before experienced Mardi Gras … until we prepared to move to Louisiana.
It was about the 2nd or 3rd weekend of January, and my family — which at that time consisted of me, my husband and our 18-month-old son — had traveled from California to Baton Rouge to do some house hunting and find a daycare before we moved here in February for my husband’s new job. I’m an insane planner, and I had planned out the trip with an itinerary that type A, OCD people like myself would die for. We ended up finding everything we needed – a house to buy, a temporary place to stay while we closed and a daycare – well before our trip ended.
I had been to New Orleans once before for a conference, but I was about seven months pregnant at the time and didn’t really get to enjoy the sights and sounds. So with a few days of spare “vacation” time before our trip back home to California, my husband and I decided to go check out the French Quarter. You know, a few weeks before Mardi Gras. No big deal, right?
When we got there, I was shocked. It was only about 11am, but there were people drinking on the streets, hanging out on balconies and throwing beads. “What’s going on?” I thought. Next to us, we overheard a table of college kids who had been out the night before but apparently hadn’t made it back to their hotel room yet. “Dude, this is way more insane than Vegas,” I told my husband.
You see, we crunchy Californians had NO IDEA that Mardi Gras was a several weeks-long season and not just an event the night before Ash Wednesday. And we had basically taken our infant son into a bar that also happened to serve food where people were still drunk from the night before. Not that taking your kid to a bar/restaurant is a bad thing; we just weren’t prepared.
Our son, Noah, ended up having what we called the “authentic” New Orleans experience. While we were at the bar, he got some beads, then got sick, threw up and passed out.
While we love our new life in Louisiana, I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand the meaning behind Mardi Gras. Other than I think it’s just all about having fun during that gap season between Christmas and Easter. At least that’s what it seems to me. Oh well, let the good times roll!