Mardi Gras has always held a special place in my heart and those closest to me know it’s my favorite holiday. It was a large part of my life, starting at a very young age (4 to be exact), when I made my first appearance as a page in a Mardi Gras ball. Our living room was always full of costumes, and many Friday nights were spent painting backdrops with the family. This was the life of a child whose parents belonged to Mardi Gras Krewes; a mother whose spare time was spent sewing and decorating many, many costumes. This clearly jump started a fire in my heart, and, I quickly learned that sequins and glitter are a necessary staple. But this year, Mardi Gras took on a whole new meaning as I danced my way through the streets as a Mande Milkshaker.
I first spotted the dots in a video that appeared on Facebook and was left wanting to know more about this group of ladies in red & white polka dots that appeared out of nowhere. Who are these brave ladies??? So I ventured out on a beautiful King’s Day last year to watch them sashay their way down the Mandeville Lakefront. And it happened – a tug on the old Mardi Gras heartstrings, and I knew right then and there that I wanted to experience this for myself. I needed that polka dotted dress in my life!! It was that day that I made the decision to apply and audition to become a Mande Milkshaker.
And here I am, 11 parades later, in what I can easily sum up as the most fantabulous Mardi Gras of my life. With what seemed like a lifetime of practices, sweat, achy muscles, mosquito bites and many Bleu-chip dinners, it was finally time to line up and step off for the ride of my life.
My feelings were all over the place!! It was happiness, excitement, nervousness, anticipation – you name it – all wrapped up into one emotion. Secretly, I didn’t think I could do it physically, after dealing with some low back and hip issues. Oh, and let’s not forget that being-completely-out-of-shape thing. After the Krewe of Poseidon parade, I tossed and turned all night with tears in my eyes as my hip screamed out some serious obscenities.
But the next morning, I felt amazing! I did it. I danced through a five (5) mile parade and survived! Bring on the next one, please!! I’m ready to jump around some more to Brass Monkey while wanting you to want me!!! Take me back right now to a land of 1000 dances!! The parade hype for me was truly electrifying and enticing. And the crowds – oh, the crowds!! The cheers, the laughter, the compliments, light-heartedly dancing in the streets, wobbling & baby sharkin’ with fans!! A valid excuse to wear glitter all the time!!!
My first parade season as a Mande was a success!! A whole-hearted passion has consumed me and I can’t wait to do more.