I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head after our Mardi Gras trip. They are likely to come out in rather haphazard blog posts, so I apologize in advance if that bugs you.
When we first arrived in New Orleans on the 16th, we were supposed to meet my mother-in-law at one of the parades. After arriving, driving around for almost an hour and finding NO parking (and finally leaving and meeting her at home later), I started to get a little worried about attending future parades with a 4-year-old in tow.
The next day, my mother-in-law told us she had found a parade-watching solution for the night — her friend Sherrie had invited us along as she went over to a friend's. The friend lived close to the route, so we could park in their yard, and have bathroom access (again, kid-crucial). The night was great — chairs set up right on the route, easy access, and most of all, wonderful people.
Our hosts for the evening, Derek and Dedra and their daughter Ghita, invited us back — and we took advantage of it — every single day. Each day we were there in an easy parking place, with great views of the parades, insider knowledge of the area, and the best parade-watching pals a person could want (and let's not even start on the delicious vegan king cake!). We saw parades, and pop-up parades, and Indians, walked around neighborhoods, appreciated homes, and met all kinds of great people, and caught throws like crazy (I think Beatrix has over 100 pounds of beads, literally). What D&D&G gave us was not just a logistical solution, or even simply a place to hang out. They allowed us into a community, a group of smart, interesting people who just happened to coalesce around an event.
And that's the true spirit of Mardi Gras.
(for more on some of these goings on, check out Derek's compilation blog.)