For most of us, the first of the year doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment. The holidays are a thing of the past, college football is over, it’s cold outside, and those pesky New Year’s resolutions are taunting us like an annoying kid brother. I disliked January as much as the next guy until New Orleans made me the month’s biggest fan. Here are just a few examples of why, in my opinion, South Louisiana wins January. (And yes, most, but not all, of them are Mardi Gras-related.)
1. January starts off with fireworks displays that would rival Disney World. The difference is, these shows aren’t put on by professionals but by ambitious children and their dads, who seemingly spend a few weeks’ salary to see who can solicit the most “oohs” and “ahhs” from neighbors and friends. Louisiana folks love their fireworks, the bigger and noisier the better, and they’re not afraid to blow them up in neighborhoods all throughout the city. While this was surprising (and even a little annoying) when we initially moved here, we have embraced the tradition. To my neighbors, I’m really sorry for the deafening explosions on the 2nd…and the 3rd.
2. While many of my out-of-state friends are adorning themselves in gloves and scarves and shoveling their driveways, I can throw on a pair of shorts and flip flops and spend a mild winter day exploring the Quarter or taking in the beauty of the lakefront. And while I do love a colorful scarf, the ones I wear are solely for the purpose of making my outfits more exciting.
3. On the off-chance that we do experience some real winter weather, school will likely be cancelled and the city will shut down. On those days (I believe we had five last year), we build a fire, break out the board games and hot chocolate, and ride out the storm.
4. The little girl in me gets to wear shiny beads and feathery headbands, while enjoying parade, after parade, after parade. (Maybe this will be the year I break my record of 21.) If you have never experienced a Mardi Gras parade, do yourself a favor and put it on your bucket list. It’s nothing like you think, and it will erase your January blahs.
5. My inner Martha Stewart gets to make an appearance. I mean, who doesn’t love a homemade doubloon belt? This year, I get to try my hand at designing a corset out of dozens of Mardi Gras beads, as I prepare for my first year marching with the Prima Donnas. (Keep Friday, February 13, open on your calendar and I’ll throw you some stuff!)
6. Krewe du Vieux–a smart, naughty, offensive, but always hilarious parade with some pretty entertaining throws–rolls through the Quarter. (It’s the only float parade that is allowed to take this route, as the floats are pulled by mules rather than tractors.) It’s a great time to leave the kids at home, grab some dinner, and enjoy a fun date night.
7. King cakes, those sinfully delicious, diet-wrecking confections, magically appear in bakeries, grocery stores, convenience stores…even boutiques. I can easily put one away in a week, and I frequently do, with only a little help from those with whom a share a house. Hint…if you always get the hidden plastic baby, you’re probably eating more than your fair share. And if you keep all of those plastic babies in a sandwich bag in your kitchen, you may have some issues…or so I’ve been told.
8. My house doesn’t get that sad, blank, post-Christmas undecorated look, since I just replace the red and green stuff with purple, green, and gold items. I even put up a Mardi Gras tree this year! Sure, it’s gaudy. That’s part of the fun!
9. Saints playoff games…oh wait…our season is over, isn’t it? It’s ok. We still proudly wear our gear, and we are certain that 2015 will be our season. Who Dat!
10. The Jazzfest lineup is released mid-month, giving us music lovers something to look forward to once Carnival season has come and gone. It’s my favorite little post-Christmas gift!
I realize that a New Orleans January isn’t for everyone. You can’t ski here, you won’t be wearing many sweaters, and that cute coat you bought might spend an entire winter in the closet. It may not the place for everyone, but it’s a perfect fit for me. Now if I can just figure out how I’m going to make that Mardi Gras bead bustier fit after six weeks of king cake…