Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And the Grand Marshall's Trophy Goes to...

Today is actually Mardi (Tuesday) Gras (fat) Day.  We have been partying since the beginning of January, and before that, Christmas and New Years.  I am tired.

Our Krewe bought a brand new float this year and our costume committee made beautiful, new costumes.  We felt like the phoenix rising out of the flames, all anew.  The costume committee sewed the final stitch around 1 a.m. on Sunday morning.  The last of the float was put together on Saturday.

On Friday north Florida was closed down due to snow.  Saturday was frigid.  Sunday the sky was clear, the sun came out, and we had no need for our coats and jackets.  It was a beautiful day on the beach.  Our parade began at 2 p.m. on Sunday but we were in lineup around 10:30 a.m., all dressed and ready to parade.  All of the krewes party during lineup.  We eat lunch, exchange beads, walk up and down admiring each other's floats and costumes.  Everyone gets their beads arranged and ready to throw.  Lineup is a fun time for all of the krewes.

At 2 p.m. we start rolling.  Our float was number 27.  I do not know how many floats there were on Sunday but we were not the last.  We had our lipstick check and took off our sunglasses and started to roll.  The excitement was palpable.  We are not allowed to throw beads before the barricades but each year crowds of people line up before the barricades, all begging for beads.  This year the crowds got so close to our float they were pushing our spotters and walkers into the float.  I thought for awhile that the crowd was going to climb aboard.  When the barricades began, our music was blaring, we were dancing, smiling, and throwing beads and trinkets.  The crowd roared.  There is an excitement during the parade that I never experienced as a parade spectator.  Maybe it is because all of the work has finally culminated in this moment, in this short period of time, called a parade.  There is an adrenaline rush.  All of the fatigue is gone and you are digging into your bags for more and more beads to throw.  You look out onto the sea of people all looking and screaming at you.  I particularly look for the little children.  We all have stuffed animals and special things for the little children.  George is usually walking next to where I am located and I give him the stuffed animals or trinkets and point out the children.  On the float I am much higher than George and have a better view.  Bending, throwing, stooping is all part of parading and it is good exercise.  Our parade turns off of the main street, Via de Luna, and into the beach parking lot.  People are still lined up and we are still throwing.  Slowly we pass in front of the Judges' Booth.  We are so busy throwing that we do not even see the Judges' Booth.  Finally, we cross into the float side of the parking lot and park.  We gather all of our belongings together, separating the empty bags from whatever is left over, collecting our garbage for disposal, and waiting for the parade to end.  Floats are next to each other and everyone's music is being turned down because by this point it is just loud noise.  The krewes are talking to their neighboring krewes and starting to unload.  As everyone gathers their belongings we exit the float and start walking to the pavillion for the awards ceremony.  Dragging bags of beads, purses, coats, jackets, ice chests, and all of the other things that we brought for parade, we all slowly arrive at the pavillion where music starts to play and we are all dancing and resting and enjoying the whole montage. 

I arrived at the pavillion to find my precious neighbors had all come to the parade.  Two of our neighbors were in the parade as spotters for our float, the rest of them were waiting for us at the pavillion.  We hugged, kissed, talked, sat, stood, danced, and played around meeting and greeting everyone until the announcer says that the Krewe of Nereids will now perform the dance routine.  Popping and bopping to Jimmy Buffet's Fins song, and all in unison -- I hope -- we performed our dance that we have been learning and practicing for three months.  The girls who were not dancing were in the background with tamborines, slapping the tamborines to the beat of the song.  The dance ended to the roaring of the crowd and we exited the stage.

Next in line were the awards.  Second place went to the Krewe of the Lost Pirates.  The krewe walked onto the stage to accept their prize.  The crowd clapping and yelling.  They exited.  First place went to the Krewe of Le Pez.  The announcement went out once and no one came forward.  The announcement went out two and three times.  No one came forward for the Krewe of Le Pez.  Then came the Grand Marshall's Trophy winner.  The announcer said "The Nereids".  We all just looked around.  Were they not coming forward, either.  The announcer said "The Nereids".  Holy moly -- that is us!  I was later told that the entire krewe dropped their jaws in unison.  Finally, we roared and yelled and cried and ran upon stage to accept our trophy.  This trophy was so far from anything that we expected we just could not believe we won.  The excitement level soared to pandamonium.  All of our fatigue was gone.  We jumped around hugging each other.   The word for the evening was "WOW".

Most of the krewe went to the bars to party.  Some of us, including myself, went back to Krewe Den.  Once at Krewe Den, I sat on the sofa and simply could not move.  I was exhausted and exhilerated.  My feet hurt, my knees hurt, my back hurt, I was sore all over.  A few hours later the rest of the krewe returned and the party started in earnest at Krewe Den.  I do not recall when we left Krewe Den but I know I awoke where we were spending the weekend.  And I awoke at 10 a.m.

On Monday is Red Beans and Rice at the beach parking lot.  This festivity is hosted by the Krewe of Wrecks, our mother krewe.  We had planned on arriving at 11:30 but since most of us slept until 10 a.m. we finally arrived around noon.  We had bragging rights at Red Beans and Rice.  We met up with all of our friends amid many congratulations and accolades.  Finally, George and I politely bowed out and came home.  After unloading our SUV, greeting and feeding the dogs and cats, we cooked dinner and sat back to watch a movie.  I guess we both fell asleep before we were 10 minutes into the movie.  We awoke later and went to bed for a full night's sleep. 

Still tired this morning, we have decided not to attend the Krewe of Coma's festivity this evening.  We need to get back to work and back into the swing of things.  I cannot wait for everyone to share the photographs taken this weekend.  Another glorious Mardi Gras.  Until next year...

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