Being a native of Louisiana, Mardi Gras has always been a big part of my life. School gives us breaks on Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. The consumption of king cake is always a highlight for me (my favorite is from Meches). Gold, green and purple adorn the streets and businesses. On every street corner you pass, you can see the preparations for the upcoming parades.

Some of my most associated memories with Mardi Gras come with school celebrations. In Pre-K, my class made mini floats out of boxes, pattern paper and cut up beads. My class, then, walked around with the floats in our hands and gave out beads like a real Mardi Gras parade.

In elementary school, a yearly tradition was to decorate masks with fake jewels and colored feathers. We would wear them during our Mardi Gras parties and, of course, we ate king cake.

One year, my family got invited to a Mardi Gras ball at the Cajundome Convention Center. I remember exactly what I wore; it was a purple sleeveless dress. The table we sat at had masks as the centerpiece, and halfway through the ball, they presented the Mardi Gras Court. My favorite part about the night was when I ate Raising Cane’s after. 

My memories of parades are limited. In preparation for this article, I asked my father about parades he took me to. He informed me that when I was little, he would take me to parades, but we would always leave early because I am not the biggest fan of loud sounds. The one thing I have always enjoyed about parades though is all the little trinkets you can catch. I think I still have some beads and plastic footballs lying somewhere in my house. 

Now that I am older, I have found enjoyment in the holiday again. I went to the Krewe of Rio parade recently with my friends and actually had a blast. We had really good spots on the parade route. 

We survived the chilly air and people on floats using beads to play target practice. I danced to the music blasting from the floats to keep warm. I particularly like the part where “Dancing Queen” by ABBA was playing. 

By the end of the night, I was weighed down with beads and had a bag full of light-up glasses and spiky footballs. 

Being at this parade with my friends reminded me how much fun it is to celebrate the holidays with people. This Mardi Gras is my first time celebrating it since COVID and the Rio parade is the first parade I’ve been to in about 10 years. 

I think the pandemic has put the holidays into perspective, especially since the more social aspects have been absent for the past few years. It has made me appreciate the school parties, the king cake, my dad taking me to parades, the trinkets, and the Mardi Gras ball a lot more. 

Also, word of advice, remember that you are off on Ash Wednesday; don’t accidentally take an Uber to the university’s campus thinking you have class. Speaking from experience.