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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mardi Gras in New Orleans


Yesterday, I talked about Fat Tuesday. SO--today, on Ash Wednesday, I'll talk about Mardi Gras. The years I lived in New Orleans (1983-88) were some wonderful years. I got my divorce in 1982 and moved from Jacksonville, FL to New Orleans to work as Director of Christian Education at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church there. My oldest son was in college, so when I moved, I had my two younger boys with me (ages 12 and 13). I shared an older home with my friend Cathy and her daughter in the "Uptown" area of New Orleans on Prytania Street. Our children went to school on the streetcar... How many people can say that?????


Life was busy back then--as you can imagine, with two women working fulltime and raising teenagers at the same time!!!! But---we always seemed to find time to have some fun living in that area. One thing that all five of us enjoyed immensely was MARDI GRAS. Another thing that we also enjoyed was the 1984 World's Fair. I'll blog about it sometime!


Until I moved to Nawlins, I always thought of Mardi Gras as being a time when everyone got drunk, put on skimpy costumes (or not many clothes at all) ---and danced around!!!! NOT!!! That may have happened--but we got involved in the parades in different areas, not down in the French Quarter. The Mardi Gras parades and balls went on for about 3 weeks before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Believe it or not, one year our family went to TWENTY EIGHT different parades in the areas around Nawlins (including Metarie and Kenner). Seems like we went to a different parade almost every evening during that three weeks.


We LOVED the parades---and we loved going home with all kinds of 'treasures' (they called them 'throws') that the people on the floats would pitch to us. We actually collected boxes and boxes of beads, doubloons, cups, etc... We were REALLY into it!!! And Cathy's daughter (being a beautiful teenage girl) got some special throws (like LONG beads among other things). We loved getting those long beads--and those 'special' doubloons. When we'd get home each night, we'd sit down and check out all of the wonderful things we got!!! (When I left New Orleans for Houston in 1988, we sold all of our 'treasures' since we had boxes and boxes of them. )


My kids will tell you that "I" became one of the kids when chasing after all of the JUNK!!!! I even stomped on a child's hand one time---when he was trying to get "MY" treasure... How dare that kid steal my stuff!!!!! ha ha (AND---ask my sons --Mark and Jeff-- about the time someone did try to steal my bag of goodies... We chased that kid down the street--and retrieved my bag!!! Think that kid thought I was going to kill him!!!! ha)


I will tell you though that we enjoyed the parades along St. Charles Avenue--and we did NOT go down into the French Quarter area (where 'naughty' stuff may have been going on)... The route along St. Charles was more 'family oriented'--so we enjoyed that the most. AND---during those three weeks of celebration, we'd also enjoyed sharing some King Cake... There was a plastic baby hidden in the cake, and the person who got the baby had to BUY the next cake... FUN!!!!


Like I said, we took in about 28 different parades over a 3 week period. The weekend before Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday was the biggest and busiest. We loved watching the Krewe of Bacchus Parade, Endymion, Zulu, Rex---and of course the big truck parade on Fat Tuesday. Hearing those bands come down the street (especially the St. Aug band) and seeing the flambeaux made shivers run up and down my spine!!!! We were all so sad when it was over for the year!


I'm glad I had the opportunity to live in New Orleans BACK in the DAY! I don't think I'd want to go back there now--since the hurricane. It's just too sad!!!! But experiencing Mardi Gras is something I will NEVER forget!!!

Today is ASH WEDNESDAY. Are you going to church today or tonight to 'burn' your sins???? I enjoy the Ash Wednesday service so much!!! AND---now begins Lent... Are you giving up something for Lent??? I've always added something for Lent rather than to give something up. Possible things to add: contact an old friend or friends; visit or call a loved one you haven't contacted lately; pray more; read the Bible more; attend a Bible Study or Spiritual Growth study... Just some thoughts for you --as we begin the Christian season of Lent.
Hugs,



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On another note, my friend SHELLEY is having a wonderful giveaway on her site. Click on her name and check it out!!!!

30 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

SORRY that my post didn't work this morning... I always schedule it for 4 a.m. ---but somehow that didn't happen.

Have a great day!
Hugs,
Betsy

George said...

Does this mean you won't take me to Mardi Gras?

Susie said...

I enjoyed reading about Mardi Gras much Betsy. Thanks for shedding the light about it being more family oriented than I had thought. I never knew that.

Thanks for letting us know about the giveaway too!

karin said...

Well, this far north we never heard anything good about Mardi Gras. All I heard was that people reveled in hedonistic pleasures - sinned on purpose as much as they could - to the nth degree. I never had occasion to check anything out for myself either - and didn't have any interest in it either. I'm glad you had the opportunity to live in Nawlins and experience this first hand!

I sure learned a lot here today! I'll be going to my prayer group tonight. This is definitely a time when we focus more on Christ's suffering and death in our Bible Studies and our Scripture Readings.

Our Catholic Mass volunteers and priest will come to the nursing home this Friday and do the Ash Wednesday Mass for our residents. It is good to be reminded that we would have to sit in sackcloth and ashes to repent for our sins.
I am a sinner who has been redeemed because HE paid the price for my redemption with HIS own blood. There isn't any sacrifice I could have made to save myself. I am so glad the Savior came!

Thanks so much for sharing this with us and encouraging us to even add good deeds during Lent out of gratitude for what our Savior has done for us!!

Shellmo said...

Hi betsy - fun to read about your times in Nawlins! Glad to hear there were "family oriented" areas you could enjoy the festivities from. The baby cake is such a cute idea - never knew about it.
For Lent - I always find another charity to donate money or time to that I'm not already doing. (Usually I'm focused on wildlife and nature preservation - this time I am putting together some clothes/toys for a few families that need help.)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love this post. I never knew there was a clean version of mardi gras. No one speaks of that part!!!
Sounds like a lot of fun and great memories for you and your boys. (so funny, you have a Mark and Jeff...my brother was Mark, Coach is Jeff-great names!!)
I will blog about what I am giving up for lent...I hope I can last.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Betsy,once again you have opened my eyes to Mardi Gras.All I knew about it wasthe evil which the T.V.networks show.It's a shame that the other part of it is so hidden.
Blessings,Ruth

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Thanks for more insights into Mardi Gras, Betsy. I vicariously enjoyed chasing after beads and doubloons.

I will be participating in Ash Wednesday services at my church today. We start a Lenten Bible Study next Wednesday evening.

Pigeon said...

We had a box of "throws" at my house, when I was growing up. I think they originally belonged to my grandmother. I remember playing with them as a little kid. In my minds eye, I still see a vivid green necklace of beads.

~Vanessa~ said...

Enjoyable read Betsy! Hope y'all are doing well :)

Jane said...

As always, your stories are wonderful. I may be heading to New Orleans in Nov for a conference. Take care --

Jane

Diane said...

Hi, Betsy, Thanks for the insight into your life and life in New Orleans. You've had a very interesting one, haven't you. Have a very interesting day today, too!!

Dave's Bird Watching Blog said...

Hi, Betsy! Haven't been around for awhile, so I wanted to stop by. Mardi Gras sounds like quite the event...never been before, but I'd still be scared to go anywhere near it. Reading the Bible more is a great idea for Lent!

Kallen305 said...

I was wondering where you were this morning. You and Jayne are always the first blogs I read every morning and yours wasn'th there. HA!

I loved reading about your Mardi Gras days. I too thought it was just drunken partying so it was very entertaining to read about the family friendly version.

Dorothy said...

Hi Betsy,
I enjoyed reading this post. It was educational for me. Yes we will be going th Ash Wednesday services tonight. I need to decide what I should 'give up' for lent. I probably should give up my computer as I spend for too much time here ☺

The Incredible Woody said...

We were in Mobile one year for Mardi Gras - it was SO much fun! I have always wanted to experience it in New Orleans!

Tootie said...

I had no idea that all those things happened there. All I have ever seen of Mardi Gras was on TV. I just didn't know there was anything else going on. Very interesting.

The Birdlady said...

Very, very cool, Betsy. My husband is in Jacksonville, FL every other week, consulting for the US Dept of Labor - We have a condo there. I'm in Fl now, loving the warmth.

Judy said...

I have never been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras but used to vacation there almost every year in March for several years. I loved the place. I think St.Charles Street is one of the prettiest streets I ever saw and loved riding the street cars out to the zoo which is wonderful. Those Hurricanes at Pat O'Briens, the food, and the pralines would cause me to gain weight every time I was there. I have not been back since the hurricane but would love to see it all again. Thanks for a great couple posts. I really enjoyed them.

Tina said...

Very interesting Betsy! I attended Mardi Gras once and it was fun but we were only in the French Quarter..never knew there was a calm side to this event!!
Sounds like you had a busy but fun life back then...no, there aren't many kiddos that can say they went to school on the trolly!1 lol

Small City Scenes said...

Lucky you guys---new computers. I think mine gave itself up for Lent.

Adding something like you do is a good idea. I remember one year in High School my girl friend and I gave up chewing gum for Lent. Well I wasn't allowed to have chewing gum so It wasn't too hard for me. LOL.

Also--lucky you to have experienced New Orleans with your boys as you say 'back in the day'. I love the jazz bands and when I die I want a Jazz band to parade down the street playing a rocking version of When the Saints....I'll be dancing---oh no I won't!!! LOL MB

Diane C. said...

Enjoyed your Mardi Gras in New Orleans post. I had never head of 'throws' before. And, wow, 28 different parades, sounds like fun!

lola said...

Hi Betsy,
It sounds like you had fun back then. Glad to hear there is a family part. All I ever heard about was on TV & they only show the risque part.
Did you hear about the shootings?

Nonie said...

We attended a Mardi Gras party down the street from your home last night and I had read your blog about living in New Orleans and thought about you. Four of our children were born in NO so we attended lots of the "family friendly" parades. Good times for sure. Left the city in 1972 so our paths did not have a chance to cross. Oh...and my husband got the baby in the King Cake last night so we will be hosting next year's Mardi Gras party. Wanna come?

Robert V. Sobczak said...

It's good to go back to visit: but in this case, that could be sad. It's good to see all the others keeping the traditions alive. That being said, I'm glad it's not me: I hate crowds.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Thanks for experiencing Mardi Gras with me!!!! It really was fun back in the day. Many of you commented about not knowing that Mardi Gras was anything other than "bad" stuff... Well--it was! I'm not sure about now--and I wouldn't go back! BUT--it was great family entertainment for me and the boys!!!

Hope you had a wonderful day.
Hugs
Betsy

Greg Silsby said...

Thanks for the very different insight into Mardi Gras. It becomes a much more attractive event than I'd always envisioned, when seen through your eyes. God bless you...

Daisy said...

I like your idea of adding something positive for Lent, Betsy. That is an interesting twist. :D

Leedra said...

I have been to New Orleans when it was NOT Mardi Gras, so I cannot imagine going during Mardi Gras.

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Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

Hi again,
I'm in NW Tn 7 mi from Ky border
...close to Reelfoot Lake...
Becky