Every year I live here (as an adult, aka Living in New Orleans, Take 2), my tolerance for parades goes down. I think this is mostly a factor of age — every year I live here, I am one year older and crankier — but also, obviously, the novelty of Mardi Gras has long worn off.
By my senior year of high school (aka Living in New Orleans, Take 1), I was pretty over the whole thing and spent my Mardi Gras break visiting colleges. During college, I did, on a couple of occasions, bring friends back for Carnival — but I mostly enjoyed that because I was: A. out of Missouri, B. in February, and C. enjoying seeing the city and the parades through the eyes of newcomers.
My first year back, 2008, I went to damn near every parade there was. Ruby was only a little bit over a year old, and she was pretty portable and agreeable, so I just strapped her in a sling, and we went to Krewe du Vieux (she was wayyyyy too young to be offended), Pontchartrain, Carrollton, Barkus, Chaos, Muses, d’Etat, Hermes, Endymion, Thoth, Bacchus, Orpheus, and Rex. It was a delightful frenzied whirlwind that convinced me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that coming home had been the perfect decision.
But last year, because Mardi Gras was early and the weather was awful, I just made it to Muses and that was only because Ruby refused to let me skip it because she absolutely had to catch a shoe. (She did, from the last rider on the last float.)
This year, I think Ruby’s dad will be in town in time to take her to Muses, so I might skip the whole thing altogether.
Or I might not. I have friends dancing in Nyx and Pygmalion — shoutout to the Cosmonaughties! — and my husband has friends in d’Etat and Hermes, and I do love Endymion … I doubt I’ll ever attend as many parades as I did in 2008, but I definitely go back and forth on what I want to do this year. So much of it depends on circumstances: the weather, whether my friends are going, how much the kids beg to go, whether the kids are sick (Georgia spiked a high fever on Fat Tuesday last year, so I couldn’t have gone even if I’d wanted to).
If I go, these are my rankings for the parades in order of how much I want to go.
5. Fat Tuesday parades. I almost always have fun when I actually leave the house, get through the traffic, park the car and get to the parade route, but the inconvenience and the crowds stress me out more and more every year. Still, if I hadn’t gone to Zulu in 2015, I would never have the story of the time a woman twerked on my toddler’s head by accident and then offered her a coconut by way of apology, a story that sounds like gibberish to anyone not from here.
Odds of attending: 1/20
4. Muses. It’s funny. It’s beautiful. And I know a ton of people in it. But it’s so crowded, and my kids have school on Friday morning, so I probably won’t make it to this one unless the weather is perfect, I find a group of people I can go with who will help me wrangle/hoist up my children, and my husband is willing to drop us off and pick us back up so we don’t have to deal with parking.
Odds of attending: 1/15
3. Krewe d’Etat. Krewe d’Etat is my favorite parade because of the on-point satire of everything from national politicians to everyday issues of the Crescent City, and this past year has certainly given it rich fodder indeed. I’m not 100 percent comfortable bringing Ruby to this one now that she can read and understand more of the off-color jokes, but I’d kind of regret sitting this one out.
Odds of attending: 1/5
2. Endymion. I’ll always have a soft spot for this superkrewe because it’s the only one that still rolls through my childhood neighborhood. I used to love watching parades line up on the Mid-City route as a kid; now that this is the only remnant, I always try to go (when it’s not rained out). Bonus: My dad lives in Mid-City and lets me park in his driveway, which eliminates one of the biggest hassles of attending parades.
Odds of attending: 1/2
1. The “Saturday and Sunday before” parades: Pontchartrain, Choctaw, Freret, Carrollton, King Arthur, etc. These parades, before the tourists flood in, are smaller, calmer, and much more family-oriented. Going to these with my mom and my kids has become sort of a tradition, and the more I think about it, the more I realize I’m actually getting really excited about the parades this weekend.
Odds of attending: 1/1
Happy First Real Weekend of Mardi Gras!