In a previous blog, I wrote about what I typically do on “Any Given Mardi Gras.” Well, this year ended up being a little bit different—and not because of the inclement weather. I was set up at the usual corner bright and early like I always am. However, I just let the flow of events unfold naturally that day, not to mention the weekend before Fat Tuesday. There were lots of invitations to parties and parades that I could have and usually would have attended, but I couldn’t do everything, so here is what I ended up doing.
Now if there is anything that’s a tradition in my family, it’s attending the Zulu Ball. The Zulu Ball is always held the Friday before Fat Tuesday. The entertainment lineup featured Patti Labelle, Mint Condition, and the Rebirth Brass Band along with Trombone Shorty and Irvin Mayfield. A source within the organization, a 34-year member of the club, said that this year’s ball had almost 30,000 people in attendance, a record breaking number for the Krewe of Zulu. He also said that that the Krewe and the coronation ball have come a long way from its humble beginnings. Although the source did not know the actual date that the first ball began, he did know where a few of the first balls were held. He said in the 60s balls were held at Rosenwald gym and in the 70s at the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) hall. After that, balls were held at the Rivergate until the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was built, where they have been held ever since. I don’t know how many people were there; all I know is that I am never ready to go when the lights are turned on at 4 a.m. I always feel like, “Hey, didn’t we just get this party started?”
Saturday I slept until noon because my head hit the pillow at 5:19 a.m. that morning. I got dressed and headed to the French Quarter. This was my first year ever being on a balcony on Bourbon Street. Sure, I’ve thrown beads before off a balcony on Royal Street, but that is no comparison. Because I was an amateur, I wanted to throw beads to everyone so I went through my beads very quickly. I am so happy to be able to check one more thing off of my bucket list. Maybe next year, I will actually be throwing from a float or perhaps I’ll be in full costume in Brazil for their Carnival!
Sunday and Monday I managed to get out to grab a bite to eat. You know, I have to rest up for Tuesday. The line at Port of Call was too long so I went to Snug Harbor instead to have their famous hamburger and baked potato. I also went to Cure for tapas, both places hit the spot!
Okay, now the big day has arrived. On Tuesday at the Zulu parade I got three coconuts on my own from perfect strangers. I never get coconuts unless I know somebody. This year I got the best throws—the good stuff—the collector’s items. We didn’t get to see Rex and the truck parades in person; instead we watched them on TV at home. Later that afternoon I went out for dancing at Bertha’s. I was home and in bed by 10 p.m., which is a little unusual for me on Mardi Gras day. Even though this year was a little low key, I still retired with a big smile on my face because Mardi Gras remains one my favorite holidays.