Need I say more?
Shriners in mini go-karts always seem to show up at these things....
That's "krewe" with a K. The float-riders have been drinking and carousing since around 8 in the morning--so, oh, about 5 and a half hours at this point? And yet Mardi Gras turns out to be a surprisingly family-oriented event...
Check out the ponytail on that member of the Walking Brigade (aka excuse for old men to smooch hot young things).
We make out like bandits!
On Tuesday, I learned several important things.
I have really good first-time Mardi Gras luck--and the amazing throws to prove it.
There really is no time too early to start drinking on Mardi Gras day.
I am a part of this community, and no matter how strong the pull of a glitzy, glamourous Mardi Gras celebration (and Kevin Kostner as parade marshal for Endymion!) is, I couldn't see myself celebrating anywhere but here, with my people.
Other parts of the country questioned the reinstatement of seemingly pointless drunken debauchery for Mardi Gras 2006, just 5 or 6 months after Katrina, when folks were still living in shelters, tents, or in trailers (well, not that that has changed much...); they couldn't see justifying the tens of thousands of dollars spent on celebrations, tv coverage, parade security and clean-up, floats and costumes and throws. They didn't understand why someone who had been exiled to Washington or Missouri or Pennsylvania would spend a chunk of their insurance money to come back home "just" for Mardi Gras.
Well, now, I get it.
Mardi Gras isn't about getting drunk or exposing yourself or streaking through the streets (although that all happens in good measure during the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday). Mardi Gras is about family, it's about who you are and where you come from. It's about celebrating your heritage and your community, and giving yourself up with total abandon to the upheaval of status and propriety and rules that happens on Carnival. It's about one last free-for-all before digging into the self-reflection and self-denial of the Lenten season. It's about getting down with your people, eating and drinking and playing and laughing and savoring the time you have together.
And maybe, just maybe, it's a little bit about beer. Just a little. :)