For Your aMUSEment: Get a Peek into My Day with The Krewe of Muses

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I have shared with you my love of everything New Orleans, especially my love of Mardi Gras. It is not a new found passion. No, it is a life long one. As a little girl, I watched float after float of gentlemen roll by and dreamed of experiencing a day in the life of a masked Mardi Gras rider. There was nothing I could imagine to be more exciting than being perched high above the revelers as I threw to them all of the trinkets their hearts could desire.

My first ride with the Krewe of Muses occurred during the first Mardi Gras of the post-Katrina era. To describe what that night was like 19840_1330412694075_6278926_n is impossible. It combined something I had dreamed of doing my entire life with the emotion of a very grateful New Orleans community who thanked us continuously for riding. They weren’t just thankful for the throws we sent their way; they were grateful that we were a part of returning their lives and their city to normal. There was this moment. It was the perfect moment. I’ll never forget it. As our float pulled closer and closer to the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Napoleon, you could literally feel the excitement gaining steam. The moment we made the corner, and I saw the largest crowd I’ve ever seen jubilantly welcoming us into their Mardi Gras memories, tears sprung to my eyes. To be a part of this amazing and unique tradition is something so special.

That ride was eight years ago. Each year as I log on to pay my dues and order my beads, I wonder if this will be the year that it loses its luster. And each and every year as the big day approaches, I wonder how I ever thought it could. You see, our ride is more than four hours on a float. It is an entire day of connecting with amazing friends and celebrating the creativity and power of women. In a little over a decade the women of Muses have created a Krewe that strives to make an impact in the community as much as we do on the parade route. It’s a group of women who are as diverse and dynamic as any you will find. And in just two days, I’ll be spending the day being entertained and inspired by all of them!

At around 9:30am on Thursday, some of the girls who ride on my float arrive at my house greeted by mimosas and king cake. It is here where the beautification begins. Imagine a vanity topped with glitter shadows and false eyelashes, wigs and fishnets, boas and satin gloves. After all, you have to transform attorneys, CPAs, teachers, police officers, philanthropists and moms into goddesses. Once we are appropriately dolled up, we head downtown for lunch.

There is no more traditional a spot to celebrate lunch over Mardi Gras than at 2449_52515324426_232_n Galatoire’s. It is a place as filled with pomp and circumstance as Carnival itself. Our meal begins with the most delicious oysters en brochette (fried oysters that have been wrapped in smoky bacon). After a round of bubbly, we dine on filet topped with bernaise and local crabmeat that is paired with creamed spinach and soufflé potatoes. It is a meal truly fit for Carnival kings queens.

How else would you go from Galatoire’s to the Contemporary Arts Center other than by way of a pedi cab parade? There is nothing more fun than to have a pre-parade before the pre-party leading up to the parade. While it can be a little chilly, it sure is fun to toss throws to happy tourists along our route. Our float comes together to meet outside of the CAC so that we can proceed into the pre-party together. As we walk in, we hope to impress the other riders and the judges with our always elaborate headdresses. 422552_10150623305904427_1452414519_n You see, each float designs and executes their own headdresses. The winner of the contest gets to ride in the title float (the first float to ride) in the following year. Just two years ago, my float was selected and when they called out our name, I swear it sounded like a high school gym would sound if Justin Bieber walked into it.

At the pre-party we are surrounded by women dressed head to toe in glitter and sparkles. We dance and laugh and toast to another amazing year. And just at the peak of the madness, you begin to hear the whispers – “It’s almost time,” “They’re almost here…” There is no sound as electrifying as that of the sirens of the NOPD’s motorcycle unit. It is the sound that tells you that the show is about to begin. We are led out of the CAC and onto our floats where we are surrounded by the year’s throws. Led by the NOPD, our floats drive down Tchoupitoulas Street to make their way to the start of the route.

As the sun begins to set over the river and the day comes to an end, we know that our night is about to begin. At the start of the route, our parade has a mobile spotlight. No matter what float number you are assigned to, you can see that light’s brightness standing stationary in the sky. It becomes our North Star for the night. The moment we see it move for the first time, we know that our ride will soon be under way.

No matter how many years I’ve ridden, I still become emotional as our tractor starts its engine. It indicates that the magic is about to begin. Along the route we hear shouts of “A shoe, a shoe!;” “Throw me something sister;” “Hey pretty lady!”  They become the soundtrack to our ride. There is nothing like seeing the excitement on a reveler’s face when you select him or her out of the crowd and hand them one of our treasured shoes. You can often hear their squeals for several blocks.

394789_10151372327764427_390849729_n It is very much how I imagine Cinderella felt when Prince Charming found her in the crowd. And how fitting, that girl had great taste in footwear. Speaking of footwear (and yes, glitter), I thought I’d leave you with a sneak peak into my 2013 Krewe of Muses shoe collection. I’ve spent hours glittering and trimming and bedazzling 30 shoes that will soon make their way to Float 10, Sidewalk side.

I hope that you are performing your best rain dance as you are reading this. In the words of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, “Don’t Rain on My Parade!” And in the words of the Krewe of Muses, “Happy are Those Who the Muses Love.”

Will you be attending this year’s Krewe of Muses Parade? Have you ever caught a shoe? What was your secret to getting it?

Would you like a chance to win one of these Mardi Gras collectibles? Leave a comment telling me about your favorite parade, and I’ll randomly select a winner who will receive a glittered Muses shoe and a few other Muses lagniappe items from the 2013 throws!

39 COMMENTS

  1. Muses Parade is my absolute favorite parade! Since we live in Alabama, we can’t always stay for the whole weekend of festivites, so I’ve given up Sunday nights parades so that I can get into town Thursday for Muses! 2010 was my first year to see it only because it was postponed to Friday night due to the weather. I told my husband right then that from now on, we were coming to town on Thursdays! Luckily, I’ve got shoes both years that we were there! Can’t wait to try to get a shoe this year!

  2. I moved here the April after Katrina and I will never forget my first parade the following February. I had never understood why people went so crazy over a parade and beads, but I totally got it after one parade! As the article said, there is just something magical about Mardi Gras in New Orleans : )

  3. I always want to go to Muses, Jen, and I can never get down there in time after work! I am thinking I may have to take the afternoon off from work so I can see you in the parade! 🙂

  4. How fun! I’m a fellow Muse, too! It is the best experience! I subbed out this year cause of the birth of my daughter and am looking forward to riding again next year!

    I think I have two friends on you float! (I think that because I know they wore a costume – head dress and all – a year ago very similar to one you’re wearing in a picture). Great post and gorgeous shoes!

  5. so hoping we can make muses this year!!! with school age kiddos its always so hard to make the mid-week night parades happen! but this year my 3 big girls are BEGGING for us to make it too!!! not to mention they are on a mission to catch some good throws to send to their Kindergarten French teacher because her box of prized mardi gras throws was stolen when she went back to France this summer and Muses was her favorite parade!!

  6. We just moved to the Northshore last year. My favorite parade was Krewe of Slidellians! Can you believe it? It’s because it was my first Mardi Gras parade, I spent it beside my two tiny children, and we had never seen a parade like that – the floats, the costumes, the dance troupes, the throws! My children will be ruined for a regular parade FOREVER!

    I am going to Muses this year with a group of fellow military wives – we will be in pink boas, look for us! I hope to catch a shoe but if I don’t – oh my goodness! – I would love to be the lucky girl in this giveaway! I am in love with Mardi Gras!!

  7. We are going to Muses this year! I love Muses because it is always so much FUN! & I also find the Muses Ladies throw a lot! 🙂 I got a shoe one year and the secret was that I just simply asked!

  8. I never knew that so much went into all of this! Love all of the fun details in this post. The pre party, the pedi cab, lunch sounds delicious (but oh my do you have bathrooms on the floats?), and the beautiful shoes. Sounds amazing! Not sure if I am going to be able to catch the parade this year but its totally on my NOLA bucket list!

  9. Muses is my favorite parade. Seriously it is (and my dad rides in Endymion). 🙂 I love all of the fun & sometimes practical throws. My husband still uses the little radio from a few years ago. 🙂

    Btw, hey Jennifer…have fun!

    Nicolle
    MCA c/o ’98

  10. Back in 2010 during my senior year of college, my friends and I were having dinner a few nights before the Super Bowl when one of them said, half-jokingly, “If the Saints win, we should go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras!” A few days, a 16+ hour drive from northern Indiana, and one speeding ticket later, we arrived in New Orleans just in time to catch my first-ever Mardi Gras parade: Muses!

    The experience was nothing short of magical; I fell in love with the krewe, the celebration, and the city itself. To this day, I decorate my apartment for Mardi Gras every year with my little collection of Muses throws to remind me of the great memories my friends and I made on that trip. Sadly I haven’t been able to return to see the Muses in action since then, but someday I will be back to cheer you lovely ladies on (and maybe even be lucky enough to catch one of your beautiful shoes!)

  11. I’ve been to New Orleans 3 times….sadly never during Mardi Gras …a Muses shoe would be divine ….one can only hope …. =)

  12. Well, Muses of course!

    I visited New Orleans last year and timed my trip specifically to attend the Muses parade. I hadn’t been to NOLA since the sixties when I lived there as a gradeschooler. Lived in mid-city and Gentilly. I won’t wait another thirty since I’ve reconnected with my Nawlins family 🙂

    You all inspired me and I made myself some glitter shoes but I would LOVE an authentic Muses shoe!

  13. New Orleans native, and I’ve never been to Muses! And, I absolutely love shoes. I don’t think I had even heard of it until a few years ago. Going on this year’s must do this Mardi Gras list! My favorite Mardi Gras parade has always been Endymion for the elaborate floats, size and riders. But, maybe I’ll change that after this year!

  14. I’m originally from Milwaukee, WI and moved to Slidell when I was just seven, so I’m a transplant. Growing up with yankee parents, of course we never did Mardi Gras in New Orleans. When I married into a New Orleanian family, we did Mardi Gras daily and by the time Fat Tuesday rolled around I was exhausted, but Loved Mardi Gras so much more.
    In Mardi Gras 2010, I was feeling somber, scared and just weird, for this were my first Mardi Gras without my first-born son. He was away in training camp preparing to deploy to Iraq in just days. A mother sometimes just “Knows” things, and I had always know my son wanted to be a soldier, and would one day deploy during wartime. But solders were getting killed in Iraq. I couldn’t breath.
    My dear husband and wonderful in-laws wanted to cheer me up and decided we needed to go the parade that Friday night. Due to rainouts, Muses was that night and it was our first Muses parade. A new all women’s parade, sounds fun. And shoe… what… that was new to me, but seeing others get one, I just had to have one.
    Half way thought that night, I got one! I was so excited, I ran to show my husband and he grabs it, and saw it before me! I’m hollering that I want to see it. So, I’m holding that shoe, and go to unwrap the plastic, and that is when it happened. Sitting there, in my hands was a gift from God. An angel had given me ‘that’ shoe. With tears in my eyes I see a red sandal decorated with stars in the colors of red, white and blue. I was holding a patriotic shoe. I was holding a message from God and the angels above. My son is an American Soldier, my son will be okay, my son WILL come home,.. and I breathe.
    Krewe Of Muses has been my favorite since. The throws are the best and the ladies are generous to everyone.
    I love those shoes, I love the lights of the dancing butterflies, I love the girls on skates, and I love those Muse’s!

    • Alane,

      I just got chills reading your story. I love that your Muses shoe helped you through a trying time in your life. As a Mother of a little boy I cannot imagine the feeling of having your son fighting a war in a another part of the world….terrifying. I applaud you, I applaud your son, and I applaud the Muses for tossing you the shoe that kept you breathing.

      Thank YOU for sharing your powerful story!

      • Oh, Karen,.. Thank you soo much… I can’t tell you how many mother told me I was ‘wrong’ for ‘letting’ him go… He’s a grown man and its something he always wanted to do.

    • What a beautiful story, Alane; I teared up reading it. I’ve had friends serve in Afghanistan, but I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to have a son serving. There was clearly an angel watching over both of you during that difficult time, and I love how it chose to send you a sign through the Muses krewe. Thank you both for having the courage to sacrifice for our country.

      • Christie… thank you, thank you, thank you… I teared up remembering it…It was tough, and he wants to do at ‘least’ two more deployments… Sometimes Angels work though the ppl we meet and apparenty their ‘Shoes’

  15. Muses and Tucks are my two favorite parades! I love all the decorated shoes from Muses and I love that it’s an all women’s krewe. Tucks always has very funny floats and I love the toilet humor!
    This year I’ll be watching Muses with my 4-month old baby girl, Julia, and I’m hoping to get one of those adorable baby shoes I saw on your personal blog!
    Have a great (and safe) ride tomorrow night!

  16. I love them all – every single one of them~! I love everything about mardi gras!!! We never miss Muses and Krewe D’etat. I would love, love, love to have a Muses shoe!!!

  17. I can say with confidence that Muses is my favorite! I wouldn’t miss it! It’s always a blast and the crowd is fun. I also love that’s an all women krewe. I’ll be dressing up this year in a pink light-up wig and tutu in honor of all the fabulous Muses and I can’t wait to see all the floats tomorrow night!

  18. I love the Krewe of Muses b/c I meet my hubby at the Intercontinental Hotel and we watch it from a stand. I have a great view of all the awesome floats. Unfortunately, I have never caught a shoe so I would love to have one. I also enjoy reading your blog.

  19. I have been told that Muses will be my favorite. We are new to the area and I’m heading to the Muses parade with a group of my friends. A few of my friends got shoes last year & I can’t wait to try to get one for myself!

  20. Muses is my absolute Favorite Parade of Carnival. I met my Partner of 8 Years at my first Muses Parade. We now reside in California, yet try to make it back every Year for the Fabulous Muses Ladies, usually dragging our English Bulldogs, Jasper Jenkins Whodat Jones and Josephine Latoya Jones. Even they love watching and the Ladies are ALWAYS so generous to them… they feel VERY loved..
    This Year We were not able to make it, as we are in the process of adopting a Baby. He should be Here by Mardi Gras, and even though I am Extremely excited, my heart was on that Parade Route on Thursday Night…
    Thank you ALL for the Love and Great Memories… look for Us, Bullies and a little Boy next Season.. We are definitely watching YOU ,and making New FAMILY memories…much Love, Kev ( and Jasper Jenkins Whodat Jones!)

  21. As a more recent transplant my first parade was Muses, which was my welcome to New Orleans and started the excitement of the First and many future Mardi Gras seasons.

    • Alane, you are the lucky winner! Random.org selected your number, and I couldn’t be happier. Your story was truly special and a reminder of why we ride. If we can bring one ounce of happiness to someone who needs it, then we’ve done our jobs! I’ll get your email address and we can connect so that I can send you your shoe!!!

  22. I’ve always loved Muses and this year, I was blessed to receive a shoe! It will always have a special place in my home. The ladies were very generous! I”m looking forward to next year already!

  23. My two (2) favorite parades are the most munificent: Muses and Tucks. The superkrewes are generous with their throws too, but not quite in the same way as my favorite two (2). Muses’ and Tucks’ throws are fun, eccentric, and whimsically appropriate. Grabbing throws at Muses and Tucks is analogous to shopping at ThinkGeek.com, one of my favorite stores for satisfying my nerdy, eclectic, and zany needs. C’mon, at what other parades can one expect to pick up a fashionable bracelet-style watch, a pair of boxers, a magnetic dry erase board with accompanying notepad, the holy (cooking) trinity in plush form, rolls of toilet paper, a stylish plunger or toilet brush, or a pair of toilet seat sunglasses? (I’ll give you a minute to reflect). No other krewes come to mind, do they? I didn’t think any would, and that’s because only Muses and Tucks toss such wonderful throws.

    I’ve enjoyed numerous Mardi Gras, so I indubitably possess a list of favorite parade-going experiences. But don’t worry. I’ll only share two (2) of them. One was the first time some of my undergrad friends accompanied me back home and I had the pleasure of introducing them to their first Mardi Gras. I wanted them to experience all of Superkrewe Weekend including its implied unofficial start, aka the Krewe of Muses. Undoubtedly, we had to work nonstop to complete our assignments in advance, so for approximately 10 consecutive days, we were running on very little sleep. But we all agreed the trip (and the preparations) was well worth it, especially for me because not only did I have the privilege to watch my friends enjoy and delight in the Mardi Gras festivities (parades, balls, etc.), but I also planted and fostered their love of Mardi Gras. From the moment the first Muses float rolled by us and they caught their very first throws, they were bitten by the Mardi Gras-love bug…and I knew they were smitten. Plus, it was pretty fun to parade around campus the day after we returned and simultaneously boast about our parade swag and throw out our excess catches and throws.

    My other favorite parade-going experience was the year the Saints won the Super Bowl. My friends and I created decorative signs asking krewe riders to throw us their signature throws if they loved the Saints or knew the Saints would win the Super Bowl, or if their football team just won the Super Bowl. Needless to say, riders generously bestowed us with their bounty, so much so that each of us left every parade with two (2) or more of each krewe’s signature throw(s)! And it was pretty nice helping the people around us catch their signature throws, beads, cups, dubloons, and novelty items. My friends and I agree that Mardi Gras kindness and camaraderie were at their zenith that year.

  24. My favorite parade is Bacchus because my father rides in it and his best friends is one of the guys that runs it. It is a family tradition to always go to Bacchus, no matter the weather or even pregnancy. One of my favorite memories was when I was pregnant with my first son, I got on my husband’s shoulders to catch stuff from my godfather, who is the lead officer…my godfather handed me a big bag of beads and cups and he then proceeded to say “What the heck are you doing on his shoulders?!? You are pregnant…get down or I will stop this parade!” It was really funny at the time and everyone around us was cracking up laughing. We also love going to the Bacchus ball with all of our friends. I cannot wait for my sons to be pages on the Kings float in about 6 years!
    Our favorite family parade is Iris…we have so many friends that ride in it and we just have a blast. I have only made Muses once and that was last year and I absolutely LOVED it. I had full intentions of bringing my family this year but I coach basketball and we had a game that night. We will not miss it again. I have a Mardi Gras set up in my house and I would love to add an awesome Muses shoe to it!

  25. I haven’t gotten to go to the parades in the city yet. This is our first full Mardi Gras season but my favorite on the Northshore is definitely The Mystic Krewe of Perseus!

  26. So weird, I’ve lived in the NOLA area my whole life, and I’ve never been to Muses, usually because of work. However, I do have a fond memory related to it. When my husband and I were “just friends,” he went to the parade and caught a special Muses bead (didn’t get a shoe) for me and gave it to me a few days later. Something told me then, that he might have something more than “friend” feelings. Maybe I should make it a point to try to go next year.

  27. Jennifer, I’ve been meaning to tell you if I haven’t already … Muses was Thatcher’s very first Mardi Gras parade ever. We walked down to Jefferson to see my mom who was riding in the bathtub that year, and he saw his first parade, his first taste of Mardi Gras and received his first throws. I saved the goodies in his baby box, and my husband doesn’t understand why! Ha!

  28. This is my first Mardi Gras so I don’t have a “favorite” parade yet. I glittered shoes with a friend this year who is also riding in Muses and hope to catch one myself this year! Muses sounds like a fabulous organization to be a part of. What fun and for a great cause! Throw me somethin’ Sister!!

  29. Whatever parade is rolling in front of me would be my favorite!!!! I would love the opportunity to display a beautiful Muses shoe on my mantle with all my other Mardi Gras finery. It would have a place of honor all year long. Hope you have a wonderful ride.

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