Nine yearsUntil you see if for yourself, you just can't understand. The sight, the sound, the smell--none of it can be captured in photographs. The feeling you get being surrounded by it all cannot be broadcast on television. It can't be put into words, either. No way. The scale of it is just too immense, and the emotions are too deep.
I'm talking, of course, about Mardi Gras.
You just can't explain Mardi Gras to someone from out-of-town, or anyone who hasn't done it in person.
A few weeks ago, media editorialists and sarcastic bloggers were in exaggerated shock that New Orleans would actually plan to go ahead with Mardi Gras this year. Isn't this a waste of precious resources? Isn't this a senseless distraction? How can you have a party when the city and its citizens are in total disarray? they apoplectically cried in unison.
The answer I came up with is simple: we can't let New Orleans die. We won't let New Orleans die. And Mardi Gras is a big part of this city. It's part of the economy, the society, the IDENTITY.
We've already lost so much, we need Mardi Gras now more than ever.
I'm blogging about this now because whether you know it or not, Mardi Gras has already started.
On Twelfth Night, the Phunny Phorty Phellows took their traditional street car ride to launch the season. They wore costumes, drank champagne, ate King Cake, and danced to the music of a New Orleans brass band. Afterward, they held a coronation party at world famous Rock'n'Bowl.
And last month, my Darling Wife and I attended the annual ball masque of the Krewe of Caesar.
No, I'm not a member, but my father is. This year, one of the princesses in the court of Caesar Empress XXVII was none other than my Darling Daughter.
Flashback to 1996: Awaiting the arrival of our first child, my Darling Wife and I did not want to know if we would have a boy or a girl. Although some family members were very put off by this, we wanted to be surprised like in the "old" days. We all found out it was a girl on the day she was born.
That same day, my mother called the Captain of Caesar to put my newborn daughter's name on the list for princess.
The whole family has been talking about this, planning it for more than nine years.
We've already lost so much, do you think we would let misfortune and bad weather take Mardi Gras away, too?
Not on your life! The show must go on. Life must go on. Mardi Gras must go on.
Have a piece of king cake and toast the joie de vivre that makes this town special. And have a safe and happy Mardi Gras!