by Michele Knapp
How does one make the conscience decision to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans on Valentine’s Day?
It was the holiday season; the time of year when our family rolls in from all directions. There we all were in a favorite restaurant – Dave and I seated across from his brother Dave (story for another time) and his wife Jordan from New Orleans.
Each year they have invited us to attend the two-week extravaganza and each time Dave and I have politely declined. Blame it on high holiday spirits, the jovial air and endless laughter as we listened to Dave and Jordan weave the tale of Mardi Gras past. Both spoke like proud parents about their “Krewes,” faces alight with lilted voices proclaiming how incredible the event this year will be.
As members of the Krewe of Endymion and the Krewe of Muses, Dave and Jordan, respectively, ride the floats and participate in the building, decorating and parties that surround events leading up to Fat Tuesday that begin in January and run right up to the morning of Ash Wednesday.
The history and energy that surrounds this event intrigues me to the point of losing my self control and accepting the invitation with great enthusiasm while feeling my Dave’s contemplative gaze upon me.
The entire city is consumed by parading and revelries all wrapped in the colors of Mardi Gras - purple representing justice, green is faith and gold of power. In every part of town, there are socials being held by gracious hosts where crawfish, Kind Cake and beer abound! The art of eating crawfish was taught to me by the prettiest little girl I've ever laid eyes on. In her Louisiana drawl, she seriously inquired, "Why don't they just call 'em sickish? 'Cause that's how you eat 'em!" I concur between finger licking; yummy good!
A visit to New Orleans would not be complete without a ride on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar. This is a wonderful way to get around the Garden District and a complete throw back to days of old.
Famous for its 19th century homes and gardens, this area was originally part of the Livaudais Plantation. The stroll through this neighborhood with the scent of flowers and fresh creole has Dave’s hunger peaked and my dogs on fire.
We agreed that Mahoney’s Po-Boy would be just fine for this Irish girl. Mind you the sun is not yet over the yardarm and all they pour is beer. Our waitress was nice enough to share a tea bag with me out of her pocket book.
Dave feasted on authentic shrimp Po-Boy and I ventured to try the “Gumbo of the Day.” After one spoon and a very deliberate swallow, I was pushing my tea aside and downing a respectable portion of Dave’s cold brew! Hot, hot and hot. Another sip and a piece of the Po Boy roll, I braved up and had a couple of more spoons before Dave took over the daunting task sending back the bowl shiny empty.
Jordon‘s Dave was able to get permission for my Dave to ride with his Endymion Krewe in the main event parade ending in the Superdome with the spectacular Endymion Extravaganza.
Afternoon would turn to eve where we waved to both Daves atop their float, separating hundreds of beaded necklaces, as they prepared for their roll down the traditional mid-city route.
So there we were, Jordan and I on Valentines Day eve. We bicycled our way to a party on the main drag, all set up with viewing ladders, fine food and spirited beverages.
We toasted to the Krewe of Endymion, Mardis Gras, the incredible and beautiful experience we were able to share together, to family, good friends and of course to love!