Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

It’s 101 days to Mardi Gras and we still have a lot of ground to cover before we get there. Laissez les bons temps rouler! means: Let the good times roll! And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

I have two introductions to make today and the two are intricately linked. The first person I want you to meet is John Boutte, a gifted New Orleans Jazz Vocalist, who grew up playing coronet and trumpet in his junior high school and high school’s marching bands. Take a listen to his music, the full version of Treme and I promise it will get you moving.

Mr. Boutte’s photo is from the cover of his Good Neighbor CD. He received with the Big Easy Award for Best Male Vocalist in April of 2001. Other awards followed: “Best Male Vocalist” of the year at the 2003 The Best of the Beat Awards, and in 2006, he was awarded the OffBeat Awards “Best Male Vocalist”.

It is also my pleasure to introduce you a true NOLA (New Orleans, LA) girl, Pamela Mason, who grew up with all traditions of Mardi Gras. She’ll take you there; plunk you down in the heart of one of her favorite Mardi Gras parades.

Please meet Mardi Gras princess, Pamela Mason –

Mardi Gras Memories

Growing up in New Orleans means a party, festival, or a celebration every few days. Being a February baby, Mardi Gras is, hands down, my favorite. My mom always said she was afraid she might go into labor with me and be stuck behind a parade trying to get to the hospital…
Frankly, that wouldn’t have bothered me at all.

In elementary school, as soon as the Christmas glitter was put away, we had Epiphany – it’s a Catholic feast that celebrates the day the three Wise Men found the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Of course, we didn’t pay much attention to that – there was King Cake from McKenzie’s bakery to eat! Every Friday afternoon, just before recess, we’d have a King Cake party. Miraculously nobody ever choked or swallowed the tiny plastic baby baked inside. Just as miraculously, the saints heard my mother’s prayers and I never got the baby – so I never got to bring the next week’s King Cake to school.

Not that it mattered so much, because I had the boasting rights to Mardi Gras parades going right past my front door. In the weeks leading up to the big day, parades are held in the suburbs and outer neighborhoods of New Orleans almost every night. If it didn’t go past my front door, it was only across the street on Judge Perez Drive. Teachers went light on the homework during those two weeks.

Everyone had their favorite parades, their favorite spots to watch parades, and their traditions. For our family, we always went to the Crescent City parade the Saturday before Mardi Gras, because it was during the day and had the best bands and paraded in Carrollton, so we could visit my Aunt Jenny and eat her red beans and rice and shrimp etoufee. I think every high school marching band, dancer, and flag corps marches in the Crescent City parade. There’s nothing like feeling the boom!boom! of the big bass drum as it walks right past , or the pretty girls in their fishnets and boots and sequined outfits… and nobody does it all better than the Purple Knights of St. Augustine High School’s Marching 100.

The following YouTube video isn’t the best quality for sound, but it gives you an idea of how close you are to the bands and the parades in the neighborhood parades. (Trust me…just get past the first thirty seconds.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWxfmm8g9LI&feature=related

I’m old enough to remember the last parades that actually ran inside the French Quarter – with flambeaux carriers! You could touch the floats as they went by – and they were each preceded by young, African American teenaged boys, wearing white shirts and carrying flaming torches to light the way. It’s easy to see now what a public safety hazard that was, but back then, it was a nod to the early parades before electricity and street lamps. The flambeaux were the only lights for the people to be able to see the stunning costumes and floats – pulled by horses back then. (And no, I’m not so old that I remember horse drawn floats!)

My father was a member of the Krewe of Pegasus – a krewe created by various military branches in 1957. He was king of Pegasus before I was born, and his satin costume and rhinestone crown hung in our cedar closet. The train is too heavy and too expensive and remains property of the krewe, but to see his scepter in our closet when I was a little girl made me certain that I was a real Mardi Gras princess.

Of course, that’s not really the way things work.

A debutante who is a daughter of one of the krewe members is always the queen of the different krewes, so that answered my question as to why my mother wasn’t wearing a queen’s crown in the pictures. (She did wear an exquisite, original Christian Dior gown – a much better deal if you ask me.) And my brother and sister – pages for the court, did not get to ride the queen’s float for the parade… too young.

There are so many different facts and memories of Mardi Gras in N’Awlins, it will take Linda a looooong time to cover all of them! Thank you for letting me share with you just a few of my own!

Here’s some additional info about Miss Pamela:

Pamela Mason is the owner of WriterMason Productions that works with romance authors to establish their platform, identify their brands, and promote more effectively their books and appearances to their targeted reading audience. When she’s not working with clients, she’s the Jane Jetson of the Digital Age of Publishing, studying trends and the business news of this crazy, upside down business. When she’s not doing THAT, she’s writing a contemporary fantasy called Glitz & Blitz – Careful What You Wish For. And reading. And making coffee. Find her at WriterMason.com, all the online communities, and at writer/reader conferences – make sure to say hello!

Thank you, Miss Pamela.
To All Ya’ll reading about Mardi Gras, let me know HOW you’re gonna Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Smiles,

Linda Joyce
www.linda-joyce.com

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About Linda Joyce

Writing is a curious journey. You don't pick it, it picks you. See my website at www.Linda-Joyce.com to learn more about me.
This entry was posted in Food, Mardi Gras, Music, New Orleans, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

  1. kcbobbie says:

    Linda

    Loved the personal stories about Mardi Gras for you. I feel like maybe I had a chance to be there thru your eyes. We had parades in the small town of Sugar Creek that I went to as a young woman with my young family. They were always on the 4th of July and I always knew people in the parade and it was very personal and fun for me.

    And there was Homecoming parade in the little town of Excelsior Springs where I went to grade school and junior high. That’s the extent of my parade history and it was fun and …not nearly as colorful and long lasting as yours. I can feel the love you have for those traditions and that part of your growing up. Thank you.

    Bobbie

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Bobbie,

      Thank you for sharing your “parade” stories. 🙂 In my years in KC, I never got to the St. Patrick’s Day parade. I used to argue with a friend from Savannah, GA that KC’s parade was bigger than Savannah’s. (I didn’t win.)

      It’s the silliest thing for me, I cry at parades. The live music just gets to me.

      And, you know of my love of New Orleans. I was so excited when you went. 🙂

      Smiles,

      Linda Joyce

  2. pamelavmason says:

    Linda,
    I cry too! I thought I was the only one…
    And all the beautiful costumes! The trains, the feathers, the captains on their horses. One of my very first efforts at writing a romance involved the mystery captain and a bride. Must dig that one out and work on it some more.
    Thank you for having me here today! I Lovelovelove Mardi Gras and these are fun posts!

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Miss Pamela,

      It’s an honor to have you as a guest blogger. I’ll be doing a post on Food- all the mouth-drooling favs in NOLA- in the future. I hope you’ll share a family favorite of yours!

      Loved your story!

      Smiles,

      Linda Joyce

  3. What great stories, Pamela! How much fun it must have been growing up in New Orleans. And now I’m so hungry for red beans and rice!

  4. K. S. Bowers says:

    Another great post. I’ve never been to NOLA, but would like to visit one day. For now, I’ll live vicariously through your blog. I’m enjoying the music and looking forward to the flavors of NOLA.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      K.S.

      When you get ready to go, you’ll know lots about NOLA…and as my dad would say, “I give you the rest of the skinny.” You won’t be a stranger when you arrive.

      Smiles,

      Linda Joyce

  5. Pamela Mason says:

    Hi Michele! Thanks for dropping by. It was a very fun place to grow up.

    K.S., Can I come with ya’ll to Savannah?

  6. writermaggiemontgomery says:

    One, thanks for another awesome topical post. I’m adoring this series! Two, “Hi, Pam. I heart you!” *waves.* Three, I just put this CD on my Amazon wish list and four, Mr. Boutte is seriously hawt.

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Maggie,

      Thanks for tuning in! Glad you like Mr. Boutte! I’m thinking we need to do a girls trip to NOLA in the spring- a Boutte scouting trip! 🙂

      Smiles,

      Linda Joyce

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