New Orleans embraces joie de vivre at Mardi Gras ; a jolly spirit like the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. Strangers are friendly; they hand out small tokens; passersby smile and speak to one another.
Should that be unusual? Well no, but sadly, most city streets don’t feel that way.
In New Orleans, folks wear outfits or masks on Fat Tuesday, which helps create a lighthearted mood. They hang glitzy wreaths of purple, green and gold. But unlike Christmas, Mardi Gras plays to a soundtrack of rhythm and blues, and is celebrated outdoors. The air smells from the pulse of the crowd, of hot dogs, beer and alcohol.
We gawked and laughed along with the participants in the obstreperous Bourbon Street Awards : a flamboyant drag-queen contest that, honey, is just something else.
At breakfast, I stuffed myself on waffles; ate a shrimp po’boy (sandwich) for lunch in a hole-in-the-wall cafe. Dog and I drank wine as we threw beads from a balcony over hanging the street.
In Louisiana, Fat Tuesday is a legal holiday, a date celebrated with abandon; one I look forward to annually. Thankfully, the ghost of Katrina has faded. As Tiny Tim might say, “God bless Mardi Gras, every one.”