Why I Would Rather Attend a Parade Than Ride in One
Here in the city, we have a core weekend of Carnival ahead with popular parades like Cleopatra, Femme Fatale, and King Arthur rolling. For parade riders, the big day for each krewe is quickly approaching. After months of preparation, it is officially time to let the good times roll for 2024.
This year, I won’t be one of those riders. The feeling of FOMO is setting in as I see my friends’ excitement growing, but overall, I’m okay. I realized last year that riding just isn’t my thing.
Last year was my first time riding in a Mardi Gras parade. It was on my bucket list, and after convincing my Mardi Gras loving bestie to ride with me, we joined Cleo! We spent the year preparing for the ride, attending fun events, preparing our throws, getting excited and eventually, the big day in 2023 came. Cleo Friday was a full day of fun. It’s hard to put into words all of the fun that occurs on ride day, but it’s a blast. There is a fabulous breakfast and face painting with your float, a lunch and pre-party with the whole krewe, float loading, and then the big ride.
I had a blast. An absolute blast. Riding in Cleo was probably my best memory of the year. But despite that, I didn’t LOVE it like I expected to. I have so many friends that ride every year and some in multiple parades so I expected this to become my new yearly obsession as well. Here are a few reasons that helped me decide that despite the fun I had, I won’t be doing this yearly.
Hands down, this is the biggest obstacle. Riding is a luxury and comes at a high cost. There are memberships, throws, activities, outfits, meals, etc. Some of this is optional, but then you don’t get the full experience. I like to go all in for things, so my total continued to grow as the prep went on. Sometimes I can’t believe I literally threw so much money away. Well off of the side of a float actually! Honestly, I’ll probably never add up the final total, for my sanity.
You Miss the Parade
I like to watch the parade. One thing I didn’t think about before riding is that I can’t actually watch the parade at all. While the crowd watching was fun from above, I really missed seeing the bands, catching throws and the energy of catching throws.
It’s very stimulating.
It is a lot on your senses. A lot of everything! People – there are people everywhere. It can be hard to tell where you are along the route. Noise – I was shocked at just how loud it all is. If you have loved ones riding, definitely make a sign, trust me, they can not hear you yelling. Lights – there are flashing bright lights everywhere.
It’s time consuming.
Now this will vary depending on who you ride with. If you are riding with a krewe that has signature handmade throws, someone has to make those of course! I am a self proclaimed “glitter throw making DIY queen” so this was enjoyable for me, but it is yet another thing to do that does take quite a bit of time. Of course, if you aren’t the crafty type you can pay someone to make your throws, but then you have to factor in the additional cost. Some people skip the signature handmade throws, but what’s the fun in that?
Of course, we are used to dealing with unpredictable weather living in New Orleans, but stressing over parade weather is a new level of stress. The thought of spending so much time and money preparing, and having to potentially deal with rain or a weather delay is overwhelming. It did rain some during our ride last year and we were armed with ponchos and it wasn’t too bad, but I can’t imagine dealing with downpour rain.
Overall, it just wasn’t my jam, despite how much fun I had. I would absolutely do it again, but it won’t be a yearly thing for me. This year, I’m just sticking with being a parade goer and not a rider. So instead of preparing to ride, I’m preparing my signs for all my girls and I’ll be on the sidewalk side cheering for my girls and hoping for a coveted cup.