I will always sparkle at Mardi Gras.
One of the best things about living in New Orleans is that you can walk down the street dressed head to toe in glitter and sequins on a Wednesday morning at 9 a.m., and no one bats an eye. You’re more likely to get a compliment than a dirty look. It’s a testament to our laid-back and fun-loving way of life. When you’re a kid, you get to play dress-up all of the time. As an adult, the opportunities are limited — so I take full advantage whenever I can. They say there are Mardi Gras people and there are Jazz Fest people. Well, I can wholeheartedly say that my family and me are Mardi Gras people.
Several years ago, some girlfriends and I were talking about how much we loved the dance team uniforms donned by the schools that marched their way down St. Charles Avenue. We decided that life was short, and, although we were graced with zero musical or rhythmic talent, that we would march down the avenue in our own way.
We hit the racks at every Goodwill and thrift store in town until we found enough outfits to fit us all, and a few extras for future friends that might come into our circle. We went to the dance specialty store and bought the shiny tights — you know the ones. Some of us even took it a step further and bought the white marching boots, or white shrimp boots, and attached interchangeable colored tassels and taps. We first wore them at Krewe du Vieux, and then we slowly started wearing them a few nights out during the big Mardi Gras weekend and into Mardi Gras Day. When we didn’t wear the outfits, we wore the boots, which are shockingly comfortable, and I believe, contributed to the collective Super Bowl win. We acquired two old band uniforms for my husband and another guy friend so they could join in on the fun.
When kids were added to the mix, we made 610 Stompers costumes and giant fascinator headbands for every occasion. I’m currently on the lookout for second-hand sequined outfits and marching boots for my twins.
Will my friends and I embarrass my kids as the years go by? Of course we will. I’m very much looking forward to it actually, and I’m pretty sure my parents thoroughly enjoyed doing it to me. But that’s part of the bigger lesson.
I hope they’ll see the joy and confidence (and a little bit of crazy) that comes with parading yourself around in spandex and sequins in broad daylight. I want my kids to know that they can be silly, express themselves and “own it” at any stage in life. I want them to remember me living in the moment and dancing in the street. I want them to look back on the fun we had together at Mardi Gras and carry it with them. When they get to college and explain to their friends from out of town that Mardi Gras is more than booze and Bourbon Street, I hope they’ll remember that it’s about family and friends, just like I did.
My soul is married to this city, and, much like my kids, it brings out some of the best parts of me. So as long as I am able, I will always have a song in my heart, glitter in my attic and sequins in my hope chest. After all, everything looks better with a little sparkle.