Addie Alexander is a Mardi Gras expert. She and her mom visit New Orleans every year to participate in the city-wide celebration for Fat Tuesday.
Maya: What is Mardi Gras and what does it mean to you?
Addie: It’s basically one big party. That’s really the best way to describe it. It’s a bunch of different parades, a bunch of different days. Mardi Gras day is today, Tuesday, but there are three weeks before with all different parades, and there’s 3-4 parades each day, some at night. It’s just a big party! A lot of food, a lot of fun.
M: What is it in celebration of?
A: I don’t know, honestly.
M: It does have some religious origin, is that of importance to you and your family?
A: Not really, some people it is and thats more on Fat Tuesday, on Mardi Gras day. Other days, it’s not.
M: Do you celebrate every year?
A: Yes! I’ve been going since I was 5, because my grandparents live down there.
M: What are some common traditions?
A: Usually, for people that live in New Orleans, the tradition is that you have people over, you have fun, and then you set up your ladders, which is where you go when you stand for the parade. People have barbeques outside. It’s a big party before the parade. There’s different traditions for everyone, but everyone always eats King Cake. Everyone always eats the same kind of food, barbeque, a lot of fried chicken, stuff like that.
M: Does your family have any special traditions?
A: Yes! My grandparents have a condo on the parade route so we always have a bunch of friends over. My grandma, before she passed, she would always make a huge list of stuff that she wanted. Before Mardi Gras happened, before the big parades, we would go to Costco and we’d buy a ton of food and we’d have a ton of people over.
M: Do you know anything about Mardi Gras celebrations in other countries?
A: I know a little bit about Carnival in Rio, but that’s about it.
M: What’s your favorite part of Mardi Gras?
A: I would say the parades during the day are always the best because it’s always warm and sunny. Also just seeing people that I don’t usually see. We always have a ton of friends that usually come down that we never see otherwise so it’s a really good reunion.
M: Did anything about Mardi Gras this year surprise you?
A: Not really, but both my parents rode in parades! That was fun.
M: If you had to give advice to someone who is new to Mardi Gras and wanted to celebrate, what would you say?
A: Go where the local people go. Don’t go to where the tourists go because it’s gross and crazy and everyone’s drunk, and it’s not fun.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS