February is in full swing, and the deepening sea of sequins, beads, feathers, and ornate (dare I say gaudy?) bras can only mean one thing…my favorite Friday of the year is fast approaching. It’s the Friday I look forward to all year. The Friday that begins with a morning stroll through Saks and ends on the Balcony of the Tropical Isle, with a stop for brunch at Court of Two Sisters and, oh yes, a little parade thrown in for fun. It’s the day that 135 lovely ladies begin preparing for in August, when our themed hats, meticulously crafted by our queens, are selected. (Our theme and sub-themes remain a secret until our big day, so until then, my lips are sealed.) It’s the day the Prima Donnas take on the French Quarter!
If you’ve never been to the Quarter the Friday before Mardi Gras, you are truly missing out. There’s the Greasing of the Poles at the Royal Sonesta (think wrought iron meets Vasoline meets burlesque performers…just trust me, it’s entertaining), some crazy and creative costumes, lots of great music, and a host of walking parades, the participants of which sport beautiful hand-beaded bustiers. It’s a scene you would only see in New Orleans.
It’s hard to say what my favorite part of the day is. It’s always fun to dress up in costume, especially when a colorful wig is involved. The sisterhood aspect of it is really special, as well. Although there are many ladies in our group that I do not know, we all get to share in this unique experience, and it creates a bond. Then there’s strolling behind a jazz band for our “Grand March” through the Quarter, while handing out trinkets to friendly strangers…a somewhat surreal experience for a girl who knew virtually nothing about Mardi Gras until she was thirty years old. Being near the band and just taking in the whole scene is straight out of a movie, and I love every second if it.
But I think the best part for me is standing on that balcony at the Tropical Isle and seeing the reaction of each lovely lady who catches one of our prized throws, a beaded bra. We Prima Donnas take great pride in making these average undergarments look like little works of art, and the excitement on the faces of the recipients is priceless. I only have one rule when throwing bras, and that is that I don’t throw them to men. It’s nothing personal, guys, but this particular Friday is all about the ladies. And for those who would snatch a bra from the hands of a lucky lady (and there are some), I’ll be nice and just call you a jerk. I am aware that you will later use it as a bargaining tool, and I think that stinks. Don’t be “that guy.”
I still have a lot to do between now and February 24. My bustier looks amazing in my head, but I have yet to glue a single bead. I am unsure as to what color my “hair” will be or what shoes or boots I will be wearing, but I’ve still got time for all of that. As for my bras, the count currently stands at 28, and I have at least five more to decorate. Only six or seven from my collection will be set aside for special folks, leaving the rest up for grabs. Why don’t you come down to the Quarter on the 24th, and we’ll see how well you can catch!