Sacred Archetypes of the Parade

Over the weekend I had the supreme pleasure of being in the Chewbacchus parade. I can't begin to describe how much fun it was to sport elf ears, crazy contact lenses, and a lit-up bow and arrow while throwing party glasses to the crowd. I also had to spend most of Sunday in recovery but it was well worth it. I’m actually feeling a little depressed now since I spent so much time preparing for it and making my lightsaber Mardi Gras beads and now I feel like I have nothing to do anymore.

But that's not true since we're getting into the serious party time of Carnival season. I'll be watching several of the parades roll through the classic Uptown route and I’ll be engaging in the long-time Mardi Gras traditions of the great city of New Orleans. I am completely confident that with these traditions, "the more things change, the more things stay the same." I'm sure that decades ago you'd find the same kind of dynamic in the crowds as you do today, and I'm sure we'll still be seeing them in the years to come.

Like last year with my "Sacred Archetypes of the Crawfish Boil,” I've also observed the same kind of spirits present at our parades this year, starting a few weeks ago at Krewe du Vieux. Here are but a few:

The Marathoners
These are the planners who get there early, scope out a good spot, bring their fold-out chairs/coolers/beer and stay for the long haul to watch every parade of the day. They might even set up ladders for the kids ahead of time on the parade route. They take this seriously as they are the "type-A" of the Carnival crowd.

The Sprinters
These are the folks who show up later, usually for the last and most exciting parade of the evening and proceed to work their way in front of the marathoners who have been there all day saving the good spots. They are sort of maddening like the people who rush the stage at a concert when the band starts playing, but they're also kind of awesome because they're the honey badgers of the parade world.

The Virgins
First-timers. We usually have at least one in our midst because I typically get a visitor around this time of year and it's always interesting to see people realize just how intense and crazy Carnival season gets. I'm pretty sure that a good portion of the country thinks that Mardi Gras is just one day with a couple of parades; they have no idea. I had no idea when I first moved down here. I was totally mystified and it's a lot of fun to hang out with someone enjoying their first experience. Just don't let them wear those beads to anywhere but a parade.

The Veterans
These are the guys that hang back and watch the spectacle. They have no use for throws and have no need to be up front. They were probably talked into going by their spouse or friend who needed a DD for the evening. They've "been there done that" and quite frankly would have probably been just as happy staying home and watching "Scandal" or "Law & Order: SVU.”

The Hunter/Gatherers
They come equipped with lots of bags and are seriously intense about collecting as many beads as possible in order to use them in a parade they are in next year or in a few days. Throws can be expensive and this is an incredibly cheap (or free) way to cut down on the cost of being in a krewe. Hunter/Gatherers might also be collecting in order to sell them at a later date, and many will run out into the street to pick up the beads that didn't make it to the intended parade-goer.

The Survivalists
I think these guys watch too many doomsday shows where people stock up on canned food and guns for the apocalypse. They run around thinking that there's only so much to go around and they have to be willing to fight for their share in order to survive. They take "The Walking Dead" and other zombie shows/movies very, very seriously. They will cut you over that light-up ring or inflatable sword. It's a matter of life and death. They have an instinct to hoard as many throws as possible because most of them are so useful the next day (they're not at all). They will jump in front of kids and push past groups of teenage girls in order to get a good stash. They are incredibly annoying. Avoid.

The Tall Guy
This dude also shows up to most of the concerts I attend. He's the 6'5” guy who insists on standing in front of you and he's like, "Don't hate me because I'm tall. I have rights, too." There's really nothing you can do about it.

The Drunks
Okay, so of course most of us are going to drink at parades, but these people make it their job for the day. It’s the reason they wake up in the morning. They're also the ones taking away from the parade with their drunken antics and stumbling and bumbling and knocking your kids over. This happens to a lot of virgins because they don't know how to pace themselves when exposed to our open container laws and 24-hour bars. This can also happen to tourists who come to Mardi Gras in order to have their own special drunken debauched experience like in that movie "The Hangover.” These people should also be avoided, but really it's a given that you'll run into them. Like with wild animals, try not to make eye contact.

The Assholes
I have witnessed this a few times, people who reach into a parade walker's bag or contraption and just take throws without their knowledge. I saw this happen last week when a few dude-bros reached into my friend's cart and absconded with several glow sticks. Do you really need those glow sticks so bad? Let me tell you something, people put a lot of thought into those throws, they put a lot of care into them, plus money and time. The throws are not for entitled, drunk dude-bros. If you engage in this kind of activity, you are an asshole. Just stay at home and play “Call of Duty,” or whatever.

The Kiddies
Children. They get the best stuff. They also get the best seats in the form of ladders and tall people's shoulders. I guess it's because they're small and cute. Fun-sized. During Chewbacchus, I tried to give just as many throws to adults as I did kids because adults need to feel special, too.

The Babysitters
This was my husband at the Chewbacchus parade. I kept asking him later if he saw cool sub-krewes like the "Rolling Elliots" or the "Krewe du Who" or "Ewokus.” He would look at me weird and be like, "No?" And I came to the conclusion that he didn't watch any of the parade at all because he was running after his kids the whole time making sure they didn't get run over by the Bar-ship Enterprise.

The Revelers
These are the ones who are just there to have a good time. They're not stressed, they're just going with the flow. If they catch a throw, great. If they don't, it's not the end of the world. They're just enjoying hanging out with their friends and family, knocking back a few cold ones or a daiquiri, and relishing in the season, being groovy. These are the people I like hanging out with.


I hope you have a safe,fun and most-happy Mardi Gras! Just avoid the drunks and assholes and you'll be fine. You'll have the time of your life.


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