Courtesy Alan Strakey/Flickr
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, moon pies, beads, tons of jazz—and parades! Depending on where you live, you might never have stood shoulder to shoulder with mobs of people screaming for candy and various cheap throws. However, the southern-based Mardi Gras tradition has crept across the country, and even the world, as masses of people hit the streets in search of the coveted beads and moon pies.
For some, the Mardi Gras celebration invokes images of drunken enthusiasts, donning eccentric costumes, pushing their way through crowds and exposing bare body parts in an effort to snag the most beautiful necklaces (plastic, of course). And you wouldn’t be completely off base! But, smaller, more family-friendly carnivals can be quite enjoyable for those not wishing to spend the next morning hugging the porcelain throne.
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that has adopted this pre-Lenten time of celebration, you have probably developed a love-hate relationship with it. The kiddies just love scrambling for cheap trinkets and the music can be intoxicating, but the traffic and crowds can make you nuts! Personally, one parade a year is more than enough to remind me why I hate leaving my little piece country land.
But when your kids create their own mini parade, Mardi Gras can be fun without the crowds, bumper-to-bumper traffic and public intoxication. This is a win-win: Your kids spend hours creating custom “floats,” freeing up time for you to work on farm chores or personal projects (cha-ching!) and you get to participate in this yearly celebration without being puked on by a stranger!
Orchestrating your own fete can be as elaborate as you have the energy for. All you really need are a few basics:
Courtesy Emily Carlin/Flickr
Cardboard boxes, oversized toy trucks and little wagons all make great bases for your “krewe.” Depending on the number of children participating, they can decorate two or even three mini floats out of things found around the house and toy room. Add some markers, glue, construction paper and even a few strands of battery powered Christmas lights, and let their little imaginations go to town. Alternatively, if you plan to take your parade outdoors, have your kids decorate a wagon as a float.
Two words: King Cake! If you’re not familiar with this particular cuisine, think sweet bread covered in green, purple and yellow (gold) icing. The traditional King Cake has a baby baked inside, but I find an army dude is just as fun for the kids to search for. For actual food, anything on a stick will do. Corn dogs and chicken fingers on a stick are great “street party” foods for our parades. And, of course, don’t forget the moon pies. If you can’t find this marshmallow treat in your neck of the woods, simply stack a marshmallow between two cookies and dip in chocolate. Whether you pick up moon pies from the store or attempt to make your own, there’s only one way to eat them: zapped in the microwave.
Courtesy Infrogation of New Orleans/Flickr
Mardi Gras is about the Jazz. Download it, Google it or break out the LPs—just be sure to crank it up!
Cheap beads, plastic cups (which I’m sure we could all use anyway) and homemade candy all make fantastic throws. Can’t get out because of the weather? Raid the pantry for little packs of snacks or the toy boxes for small stuffed animals. While the trinkets are great, they’re just small part of the whole Mardi Gras experience.
Now that you have your basics, mark out a parade route through the house, set some obvious “no fast balls thrown at the television” rules, and dress up in anything feathery, furry or just plain funny! This is your time to just have fun!