Mardi Gras in a Post-Katrina Landscape
August 29, 2005 will never be forgotten in Louisiana or throughout the United States. That is the date when Hurricane Katrina made landfall and changed our lives forever.
But nearly six months to the day from when the levees broke, Mardi Gras 2006 went off without a hitch.
Sure, the festival wasn’t as big in years past. Thousands of people stayed away, afraid to travel down South to take part in their annual traditions, afraid to view the devastation that is still a real part of the day-to-day lives of thousands of people affected.
Mardi Gras 2006, was exactly what the Big Easy needed and was the perfect remedy to the chaos and catastrophe that the residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama had to endure for the previous six months and will continue to endure for months and years to come.
Mardi Gras 2006 altered traditions. Superkrewes who never had marched on the same day before, and often had been very vocal about their dislike for each other, came together in unity marching as one. When a Krewe needed a float, another Krewe would step up and offer one of theirs.
King Cake sales went through the roof as many displaced residents ordered them from afar to get a taste of their city and their heritage.
New Orleans needs Mardi Gras, yes. But as we witnessed this year the ENTIRE world needs Mardi Gras! We look towards those few days with so much anticipation and for all of the citizens who questioned the need to hold Mardi Gras so soon after the Hurricane and with clean-up and relief efforts continuing, hopefully they realized the importance that it holds throughout this country.
In our busy lives we often become consumed by the mundane and the tedious. Mardi Gras allows us to forget about our troubles if not for a few days, then for at least a few hours. It gives us the pleasure of standing shoulder to shoulder with our fellow citizens, trying to snag that necklace of beads that is just out of our reach, and it allows us to come together as a community to celebrate and chide all that is good and bad in today’s world.
Mardi Gras is more than a few days of debauchery. It is a time for us to come together and celebrate the uniqueness that makes us different, while at the same time giving us the chance to bask in the craziness that makes us human.