Dear New Orleans,
Thanks for showing up last night. But, of course, you would. It was the perfect weather to kick off the biggest weekend of Mardi Gras, weather I’d been praying for as a first-time rider. I wanted my first ride to be perfect. And it nearly was. Even after tragedy unfolded, it was nearly perfect. And, of course, you would settle for nothing less. New Orleans is nothing if not resilient and spirited.
I was on Float 23 and completely in awe of the crowd on Magazine. I didn’t know where to look or what to throw. It was surreal. I knew it would only get better when we turned onto Napoleon, and I couldn’t wait. But that didn’t happen. I was on 23, and the accident occurred at 21 shortly after we started. It was horrific and awful all the way around, especially for the woman and her friends and family, the crowd that witnessed, the first responders, and the riders of 21. I can’t imagine.
Still, you showed up, New Orleans.
When the news broke, I was inundated with texts and calls from loved ones who wanted to make sure I was safe. Thanks for checking on me, tribe. Once it became clear that we’d be standing still for a while, you walked from your spots on Napoleon to give me my long-anticipated experience of seeing my friends and family on the route. That meant the world to me. Thanks for always being the village I need.
As we sat stalled on Magazine with our lights out, no longer permitted to throw, you were there. We made multiple announcements that the parade was cancelled, but you didn’t move. You walked Magazine for us offering Popeye’s biscuits, water, champagne, and bathrooms. You offered condolences to our krewe. You didn’t let your disappointment show because the air was already so thick with emotion. Thanks for taking care of us, Magazine Street.
As the bands were dismissed and rerouted ahead of us, we sat in our positions and waited with no word on what would happen next, sick over the loss of life on what was to be a joyous Carnival night. You were there with us, NOPD. You were on your feet the entire time stopping at each rider to keep us informed and chit-chat. You extended your shift by hours with grace and a smile. If I couldn’t throw all my purses, I was glad to give what was left to y’all. Thanks for your dedication, officers.
When it was determined that we would roll back to our staging area, we sat down for the ride, but New Orleans was still standing. You knew we could throw nothing, but you stayed. You stood for us, cheering and waving and admiring our headdresses. When we saw you, we stood too. We rolled, not in the way we’d planned, but we rolled. I felt like a queen waving back to you at nearly midnight. I would have thrown you my best purses if I could have. Thank you for your support, NOLA.
At the end of it all, our krewe was stuck unloading never-opened throws packages. Because cars were not permitted in our float lot, we had to take only what we were willing to carry. So much was abandoned. But our Nxy sisters worked together to make the best of it. Thanks to our sisters with wagons and husbands who stepped up and offered to take anything extra. And thanks, yet again, to our village who sat in hours of traffic to get us home from the lot at two in the morning.
Thank you for your heart, New Orleans. You made my Mardi Gras dreams come true.
A NOLA girl and Nyx Sister