Parading

16 02 2013
Two guys walking abreast (that me and my buddy in the cleavage)

Two guys walking abreast (that me and my buddy in the cleavage)

It was a 
dark time growing up without king cake. I grew up in a time before
 Mardi Gras came to Baton Rouge. I’d heard about it as a kid and 
family friends would bring me exotic, glamorous beads from a far
off place. As a child New Orleans seemed much further away than 90 
miles and it was so foreign to where I lived. Even the accents of 
the people from there sounded funny.

That first experience didn’t 
happen for me ’till I got to college. My parents remained Mardi
 Gras virgins. But at some point in my young adulthood, a small
 parade began in the shadow of Louisiana’s huge phallic State
 Capital. Sure, it was a bunch of drag queens that 
liked to dress up and parade down the streets of the town’s oldest 
neighborhood, Spanish Town, but it was a parade. That little parade 
grew and grew and last year 100,000 came to catch the beads, or
 condoms, or white bread or whatever was being thrown off the 
homemade floats.

Governor Jindal was among many politicians skewered this year

Governor Jindal was among many politicians skewered this year

It is 
appropriate that a parade grew up organically in the shadow of
Louisiana politics. It’s the honoring of our corrupt and crazy
 political history that makes the parade so fun. Add sexual
 overtones to it all and it is a day that is so fun and hip and cool 
that Baton Rouge can only sustain that level of intensity for the 
day of the parade. The Spanish Town parade doesn’t try to be a big
 and glitzy New Orleans parade with it’s imported celebrities. The celebrities that are at the Spanish Town parade are likely to 
be the infamous politician who just got out of  jail. The
 floats look homemade because they are. Pictures are stapled to the
 sides that someone downloaded and printed on their office printer
 when the boss wasn’t looking. The paint is barely dry on others 
because they were hastily put together with a keg and an 
all-nighter.

costume copy

Even the colors are 
different. Instead of the traditional purple, green and gold, 
flamingo pink is the color that rules the day. People dress in the
ir reverence of the parade spirit and of course in pink. You can’t
 be too pink or too tacky. That drag queen spirit is still present 
in the deep marrow of the costumed revelers. Families are welcome, 
but this is an adult parade with pink penis popsicles sold by the 
same vendor selling pink cotton candy.

The hightlight of the parade 
is the lawnmower brigade—the Krewe of Yazoo. They parade like a 
marching band, but they’re all pushing their lawn mowers. And each 
year they have a choreographed performance. Last year they were 
zombies performing “Lawn of the Dead” to the music, Staying Alive.
 My favorite past performance may always be when they were the 
Mow-donnas.

The Grand Marshall and me

The Grand
Marshall and me

The Baton Rouge Spanish Town
 Mardi Gras Parade, a day of hilarity and friends and eating and
 drinking. It’s all the things I love about living here, all wrapped
 up with a big pink bow—just don’t ask where that bow has been!

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—Connie