Laissez les bon temps rouler!
For the uninitiated, that’s “Let the good times roll!”
My first visit to the Mayberry-ish town along the Alabama gulf coast that we now call home was five years ago, on Mardi Gras weekend. A native Alabamian, I vaguely understood that Mardi Gras was celebrated in Mobile (Mobile’s Mardi Gras actually predates the city of New Orleans). What I didn’t realize before then was that Mardi Gras is celebrated all along the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and even as far east as Pensacola, Florida.
I fell in love with both Mardi Gras and the town that weekend. Contrary to the sometimes coarse and not always safe debauchery of legend found a couple of hours away in New Orleans, Mardi Gras in Mayberry is a family celebration. Kids line the streets, hoping for a special treat – such as a stuffed animal or Double Decker Moon Pie! – thrown from one of the floats.
In addition to the conventional parades, there are non-traditional ones, as well, such as the one put on by the kindergarten classes at the elementary school, and the dog parade, a fundraiser for the local animal shelter. At one time or another we have attended or been a part of both of them. Since moving to the area, Mardi Gras has surpassed Christmas as my favorite holiday – not just because it’s fun, but because it’s low pressure.
Mardi Gras is something that Sarah Kate shouldn’t be able to enjoy. Although she is able to walk without assistance, she can’t jump or dart around quickly – crucial skills for kids on the hunt for Mardi Gras throws. But love it she does, because of the kindness of others who regularly catch beads and place them around her neck. This year, she had so many that she could barely walk.
Because we moved here when Sarah Kate was five, she has little recollection of the years when we didn’t celebrate Mardi Gras. Nathan was born almost two years after we arrived here, so he will likely never know a life without Mardi Gras, and that’s the way I want it to be.