Why celebrate Mardi Gras this year?
There has been a lot of talk around town, and around the nation, as to New Orleans' determination to celebrate Mardi Gras in 2006. Mardi Gras day falls on February 28th in 2006, almost 6 months to the day that Katrina devastated our beloved hometown. Many, if not most citizens will still be displaced. Some will have recovered from the damge to their homes and businesses, but most will still have a lot of work to do. We will all still be mourning those we lost, either through death, or displacement. So why do we insist on hosting an 8-day long party and invite the world to join us?
As Expression of our Collective Soul
The answer, in part at least, is that Mardi Gras is an expression of our collective soul. It represents, in its original form, a celebration of earthly pleasures that precedes a period of fasting and self-denial. New Orleans has always exulted in this kind of multiple personality disorder, living life seemingly carefree (hence we are known as "The Big Easy"), yet all the while wholly conscious of our own mortality. Our cemeteries are as famous as Bourbon Street. So what does Mardi Gras mean to us?
What it Tells the Nation
Mardi Gras means that the City of New Orleans has not, and will not, die. It will not allow bureaucratic bungling or legislative indifference to suck the life out of us. Mardi Gras to us means that we will not allow perception to become reality. We are a city that is made of, and embraces, people of every race, creed, color, and economic status. As we have always done, this year we will stand shoulder to shoulder, indistinguishable from one another as we watch the beautiful parades roll by, jostling while we shout the traditional phrase "Throw me something mister." Indistinguishable, because we share a common bond in that we are all New Orleanians.
Not a Frivolous Time
Mardi Gras means far more to us than a frivolous opportunity to forget our troubles for a few days, or to pretend nothing has happened. We have all, each and every one of us, lost peace of mind and pieces of our hearts. But what we have not lost, and will never surrender, is our unique way of life that people from all over the world come to bask in and enjoy. We want the world to know that we are still here, that we intend to remain here, that we are strong and determined. We may bow, but will not break. We are not and will never be Anywhere, USA.
Come See What We Are All About.