Editor’s Note: The following series “Get to know Mardi Gras!” is a week-long series curated by Gabriela Taras as a part of the Digital Research Internship Program in partnership with ViaNolaVie. The DRI Program is a Newcomb Insitute technology initiative for undergraduate students combining technology skillsets, feminist leadership, and the digital humanities. This year Mardi Gras lands on February the 25th. So, this curation is dedicated to Mardi Gras shenanigans in New Orleans. This curation will help you become familiar with the traditions, culture, and history that have made Mardi Gras what it is today & how it shaped our city!
Read about the Renée Peck’s bloopers and Mardi Gras no-no’s from her personal experience! Hint: somebody bit her for a doubloon. This article was originally published on January 28, 2014.
In the late 1970s, as a newcomer to New Orleans, I quickly learned the rules of throw-catching. 1.) If a pair of beads comes your way, snag them in the air and don’t let go – even if it means snapping them in two in a tug of war with a competitor. 2.) NEVER bend down to pick up a doubloon, cup or pair of beads – your hand will be stomped or head whacked by someone.
At a parade one balmy afternoon, a doubloon landed at my feet. Mindful of Rule No. 2, I quickly stepped on it. Never bend down, right? The woman next to me, obviously overcome with throw-fervor, quickly bent down. Ah-ha! I thought. She doesn’t know Rule No. 2. Then I felt a sharp pain in my ankle. “Stewart!” I shrieked to my husband. “That woman just bit me!”
And off she went with my doubloon. Rule No. 2 defeated.
As a newcomer to the city, my husband and I were thrilled to find an atmospheric and affordable apartment in the French Quarter — in the 900 block of Bourbon Street, smack between Lafitte in Exile and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. The only drawback: parking. Too poor to afford a designated space, we took whatever curb space presented itself – usually blocks away.
Then, a few days before Mardi Gras, fortune smiled and we found a spot right in front of our apartment. How lucky, we thought!
On Mardi Gras morning, we woke up, wandered into the street – and saw a crowd of revelers, several dozen in all, jumping up and down … on the hood and top of our auto.
Rule No. 3: Never trust a gift parking space in the French Quarter.