By: Yilin Liang
“Let the good times roll!” During Mardi Gras, one will often hear this expression yelled by merry party-goers. French for “Fat Tuesday,” Mardi Gras describes the Carnival celebrations that occur around the Christian holiday, Lent. This holiday is celebrated around the world with parades, costumes, masquerades and various traditional foods.
The most famous celebration in the United States, however, occurs in New Orleans. Each year, the city decks out in Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold. Mardi Gras season officially begins each year on Jan. 6 or Twelfth Night. Then, three weeks before the actual Mardi Gras date, various small celebrations and several large parades and festivities begin within the city. People from all over flock to the city during this time to partake in the celebrations.
Seniors Cody Einfalt and Chipper Stotz attended Mardi Gras their freshman and sophomore years. The two have been best friends for 13 years and decided to go together to Mardi Gras because Stotz’s mother grew up in Mississippi. “She wanted us to experience the South,” Stotz said.
During the weeks before Mardi Gras, Einfalt and Stotz attended many of the parades and festivities. “We learned how to get beads,” Einfalt said, “You have to directly ask for them. We had so many, we had to hold them in bags.” Beads are often thrown during the parade and people scramble to collect these elaborate necklaces. Einfalt and Stotz’s favorite parade so far has been the Krewe of Muses. “They throw shoes at you,” Stotz said.
Einfalt and Stotz will also be returning again this year for Mardi Gras. “We’ve pretty much run out of things to do, so Chipper’s mom made a scavenger hunt for us this year,” Einfalt said.
Stotz and Einfalt return often to New Orleans because of the famous Southern hospitality. “The culture is so different from here,” Stotz said. Einfalt agrees. “You can have a giant conversation with random people you meet,” he said. This year, the two have created a list of activities they want to accomplish. “We made T-shirts and on the back, we have a bucket list of things we want to do while we’re there,” Stotz said.
Einfalt and Stotz have plenty of advice for those who want to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. “There’s a lot of options to eat like you can out here, but if you actually want to experience the culture, you should branch out,” Stotz said. “Go to the parades.” The pair recommends a buddy system while at the parade so as not to get lost. Einfalt also offers pointers for the Mardi Gras festivities. “Be ready to see inappropriate things,” he said. “You will get good at the lingo down there. Don’t swim in the Mississippi [River].”
For those who decide not to travel to New Orleans, there are still plenty of celebrations in the Bay Area. Each year, San Francisco is home to various Mardi Gras balls and musical events. Additionally, many Southern style restaurants in the Bay Area also have Mardi Gras-themed menus for those who want to experience the cuisine of the holiday.