St. Charles Herald-Guide

Throw me something, mister!

By Heather R. Breaux - January 24, 2007

Mardi Gras season has arrived, and I wouldn't be a true Louisiana girl if I didn't say this is my favorite holiday.

And that's not negotiable, it's the bottom line - no other holiday gives me the adrenaline rush of Fat Tuesday.

When I was a kid, my parents would take my sister and me to St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans for Mardi Gras to see the back-to-back truck parades.

We would find a spot on the grassy median in the middle of the street and park the red wagon mom carted my sister in.

Then we’d wait for the parade to start.

I can remember making “finger sandwiches” with my mom and packing the ice chest with drinks and other treats the night before our big Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans.

My dad would load the car with lounge chairs and beach towels for us to sit on - and we’d bring along lots of old pillowcases, too.

With an average of 300 floats rolling through the Crescent City on Mardi Gras Day - you needed something a lot stronger than a plastic grocery bag to put your beads and trinkets in.

And I loved to catch the long beads - you know, the ones that would give you a concussion if they missed your hand and smacked you in the forehead.

But my all-time favorites were the Indian spears that us kids would fight over.

They were plastic with red, green and yellow feathers, and a black rubber tip - not too fancy, but they were rare, so when one was chunked off a float, everyone dived for it.

My dad was a “cup catcher” and a “float chaser.”

He would focus all his energy on catching as many branded plastic cups as possible, and with us on his shoulders he would chase the floats if necessary.

There were times when my dad caught close to 200 cups in one day. If there were a world record for this, I bet he would hold it.

After the last parade rolled by and we made our way home, my sister and I would sit on the living room floor and sort all the beads and cups.

We separated them by length, and then by color. We grouped them into twelves. And then into grosses!

We held on to our favorites, and gave the rest away often to someone riding in a parade the next year.

My family didn't go on fancy vacations to exotic places around the world, but when I look back these are the times that I remember. The times that remind me of who I am and where I come from.

I may not have vacationed to the black-sand beaches of Hawaii and I haven’t seen the London Bridge, but I can guarantee that I've used every Port-A-Potty along a New Orleans parade route, and that I can scream louder that anyone else, "Throw me something, mister!"

So, to all my fellow parade goers, grab your pillowcase and Laissez bon temps rouler!