Mardi Gras Mambo begins playing in our house January 6th. Originally from Florida, the only parade I was used to was Calle Ocho, which is a festival meets parade in Miami to celebrate Latin Culture. I had obviously heard of Mardi Gras but the only photos I had seen were of partying in the streets. I was not aware of how much Mardi Gras and New Orleans are during the Mardi Gras season. Once living here, my first Mardi Gras was amazing. I quickly learned how amazing it was to catch shoes, sunglasses, and coconuts. You name it. It was a thrill to watch the parades and experience Mardi Gras.
During my first Mardi Gras season I saw how these days of parade watching and marching band dancing brought such unity to so many people from different walks of life. I told my husband right after that season that I had to be a member of a krewe. I wanted to experience Mardi Gras from the other side, from someone on a float.
I was quickly informed how difficult that would be. Being a member of a certain krewe meant having to know someone who knew someone who knew someone or being born into a certain family. Many people told me to give up on that dream for the time being.
I was still determined but needed to focus my energies and efforts on the krewe that really called to me. Over the next year, I met various people who were on different krewes. I loved the sisterhood that seemed to be offered by being a member of the Krewe of Cleopatra or Krewe of Iris. Both had their amazing benefits. As the year went on, I felt my calling was to be a member of the Krewe of Iris. I love that it was the oldest all-female krewe in New Orleans. That seemed to give me a sense of long-term sisterhood. This was something I had previously felt when I joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority in college. It was also one of the oldest founding sororities.
By luck, a good friend was a member of the Krewe of Iris, and well, you meet someone who meets someone who knows someone who knows someone. We immediately all hit it off well. I knew I found my place. My float is truly amazing. The group of ladies I ride with specifically on my float have been such key females in my life. Our members on my float range from age 84 to 24. The ladies were so welcoming and lovely from our quarterly meetings to grabbing a glass of wine while decorating sunglasses to philanthropic events around town. My krewe is the krewe for me.
Some of my favorite memories are hearing our older members talk about their first couple of rides in the parade. Their love of Mardi Gras and their love for the Krewe of Iris are truly inspiring. We do live, eat and breathe Mardi Gras all year round. The preparation to ride is very detailed and our Mardi Gras entertainment is not just on the day we ride. I especially love joining a Krewe that rides during the day. This allowed for more families to be out having fun and watching your parade. Now I find joy in having my daughter watch me ride and cheer for me with her friends as my float goes by. Being in a day parade also allows me to enjoy the night parades with my family and friends.
My husband has often asked me what it feels like to ride in a Mardi Gras krewe (obviously this was before he rode in a parade himself). It truly feels like you are a rockstar or celebrity for that almost two hours you’re on that float. The joy you get from throwing something to someone who catches it is thrilling. The happiness you brought that person with those sunglasses, that bead or plush or T-shirt brings happiness to you. It’s hard to describe it to someone hasn’t who hasn’t ridden, but it was something I had wanted to do and once achieved was overjoyed.
I was then further blessed to be selected as a maid for the Krewe of Iris Royal Court For Mardi Gras 2021. That Mardi Gras, of course, did not happen due to the pandemic. So I stand corrected and state that I was selected to be a maid for the Krewe of Iris for Mardi Gras 2022 with my husband as a Duke for the Krewe of Iris. Being selected to be a maid, it brought on more excitement and involvement in the krewe I had already grown to love with the females I’ve been blessed to know.
So when you go out during the Mardi Gras season 2023 and watch all the parades, know that you two can achieve joining a Krewe if you put your mind to it. Most importantly, find the Krewe that calls to you. I found mine with the Krewe Of Iris.