Having New Orleanian parents, I have attended Mardi Gras throughout my childhood. However, this year, my mom surprised with the opportunity to ride in a Mardi Gras parade.
My mom’s best friend from high school married a fanatic Saints fan. Her husband is a musician and local celebrity who goes by the name Abdul D. Tentmakur. The name and legacy began in 1993, when the famed Buddy D, New Orleans radio personnel, said, “If the Saints make it to the Superbowl, I will wear a dress to the game, and I’m going to need a tentmaker to make the dress since I am so big.” After that day, Abdul became a regular guest on the radio show, and in the early 2000s, he started writing songs about the team’s opponents, players and coaches.
Abdul and his band ride each year in numerous Mardi Gras parades, playing music and throwing candy and trinkets for the crowds. This year, for the parade of Ceasar, my mom and I would accompany them on their float.
I realize that when one thinks of Mardi Gras, crazy, inebriated fans come to mind, but Caesar is family-oriented parade in the suburb of Metairie. We were told that the children love catching candy and trinkets, as opposed to the traditional necklaces and doubloon coins.
In preparation for the event, my mom and I purchased ridiculous numbers of Dum-Dum lollipops, Starbursts, bouncy balls, toys and fake flowers. We also packed all of our Saints gear, seeing as the theme of the parade was “Game Time.”
The day of the parade, Saturday, February 22 was a beautiful, warm, New Orleans day, which only fueled my excitement. Around 4 p.m. we headed over to the area where all the floats were held until the parade’s 6 p.m. start time. It had been years since my last Mardi Gras, and the magic had not faded. The glimmering, bright floats draped with beads exuded their intended themes of Chess, Angry Birds, Farmville, etc.
Compared to the elaborate “game” floats, the band’s float was small and dull. However, the personality stuffed inside our little float set us apart from all the others.
My excitement only built as I watched the first floats and marching bands pass in front of the first crowds, and soon we were rolling, too. I was overcome with sheer joy, throwing handfuls of toys and candy at the adoring children with outstretched arms as they passed below us.
As my stash of throws quickly dwindled, my mom reminded me that we were not yet halfway finished, so I took a break and enjoyed the music around me. The entire atmosphere was so vibrant and fun, I cannot explain my joy. My favorite part was the reaction on the kids’ faces when I specifically gave/threw something to them.
Overall, the experience only strengthened my love for Mardi Gras and its uplifting effect on the city of New Orleans. I loved the impact that a simple gesture, like a lollipop or flower, could have on a joyful kid.