Mardi Gras Survival Guide

If you plan on going to Mardi Gras, which you should. There’s a few things you need to know.

Survival Guide:

  • Remember where you parked. It sounds like a no-brainer, but let’s be real. If you have a tendency to forget where you parked at the grocery store, there’s a high probability you will forget where you parked at Mardi Gras. I also suggest you park in a legal spot. Yes, you will have to pay to park there, but it’s better than the fine you’ll pay after the car’s towed.
  • Bring a sack.  The reveler’s are usually generous with the throws. You need a place to stash your hoard. A pillowcase or a shopping bag are both good. You can wear most of the beads you catch. Warning: they get heavy if you don’t have a bag, you’ll end up with a soar neck. You can also eat the moonpie’s but those stuffed animals and roman noodles have to go somewhere.
  • Bring food or a wad of cash. Man was not meant to live on moonpie’s alone. If you plan on staying for more than one parade a day, you’ll need food. There are plenty of food trucks lining the streets, not to mention the peanut man, but that gets expensive. There are a number of parks downtown. Pack a lunch and enjoy the people watching. Don’t forget the water.
  • Wear layers. Mobile weather is…bizarre. It may be cold, hot, or rainy. Come prepared for all three. If you bring an umbrella, it doubles as a throw catching device. A word of warning, not sure how legal that is and the people you stand next to, may not like it.
  • Keep up with the wee ones. Thousands of people go to each parade. Children love the noise and colors. It can be hard to keep up with them. Have them all where the same neon colored shirt. The more insane the better. Bonus points if it’s reflective or glows in the dark. Spray paint their hair with a bright color. That way if they wander away, it’s easier to see them. In case they wander too far, make sure they know your cell number and have ID with them. Police are everywhere downtown.
  • Get a map of the route. Visitor’s may not know this, there’s more than one parade route. The smart visitor studies the map ahead of time. Pick out the best location, that has easy access to another road. You can usually see the parade in one spot and then walk a block or two and catch the parade again. Twice the amount of throws! Just remember: Do NOT jump the barricades.
  • Keep your shirt on. This is not New Orleans.

Laissez les bons temps roule!


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Mardi Gras part 4, Throws

Throw me something Mister!

Mardi Gras loot from the MOTs.

Mardi Gras loot from the MOTs.

When you think of Mardi Gras, most people think  of the parades. Thousands crowd the street, jumping up and down and screaming, “Throw me somethin’ Mister!”  Just remember to keep your shirt on, this ain’t New Orleans.  What in the world could all these people want?

Throws.  Mardi Gras throws.  There are rules about what the masked riders can throw.  There’s also tradition.  There’s plenty of candy, stuffed animals, Frisbee’s, and plastic cups.  Those are great, but I want the big 3.

The Big 3 of Mardi Gras Throws:

  1. Beads– Cheap plastic bead necklaces they may be, but they are hot! They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the more unique the better.  The added bonus: Krispy Kreme doughnuts will give you a dozen free hot nows for a 12 lb. bag of beads.  A local school for the disabled uses them for job training.
    This year I noticed the society abbreviations made in plastic and light up.  That was fun to get, the kids love anything that lights up.  The group emblem is also a great necklace to get.  The MOTs emblem is a dragon.

    Dragon float.

    Dragon float.

  2. doubloons-These are the holy grail of Mardi Gras. Each Mystic Society has coins made with their emblem. They also have them made new each year with the theme and year printed on them. Not every masked rider throws them, and in my experience they’re a bit stingy with them. The masked riders buy their own throws, doubloons are pricy to buy. They are hard to catch and find in the dark.  They are my favorite throw.  I’ll give up all the moon pies for doubloons. We did manage to catch a few this year, all were general and not specific to the parade.  It’s not just me that loves these coins.  There is a collectors club for Mardi Gras doubloons.

    An MOT marshal.

    An MOT marshal.

  3. Moon Pies- The traditional catch and snack food of the parade.  I don’t eat Moon Pies, but they are fun to catch and give away.

Two hours of chasing floats rendered quite a haul.  I am hoarse, tired, and coming down with a cold.  But it was worth it.  The MOTs (mystics of time) have several dragons that lead their parade.  They undulate down the street and breath smoke and fire.  This was my first MOT parade and the first parade we took our children to in downtown Mobile.  It was awesome.  We ate over priced nachos, boiled peanuts, and corn dogs while waiting for the parade. We met visitors from out of town and got hit in the head with more than one bag of unopened beads.  And for the record, Raman Noodles hurt!

Even horses get a mani and pedi for Mardi Gras.

Even horses get a mani and pedi for Mardi Gras.

Happy Lundi Gras,


Row80 Sunday Edition #6

Happy Joe Cain Day!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the traditions of Mardi Gras, today is Joe Cain Day. For a bit of explanation on why an entire day is dedicated to a guy name Joe, click here. Now, on with the goals…


Writing: new novella.  25,000 words.  I’m at 13,009. If gotten 4,013 words written this week.  I’m happy with that.  The kids are out of school this week for Mardi Gras, don’t know how much will get written.  Mardi Gras ends Tuesday, don’t know why they are out for the whole week.

Editing:  Edit my NaNoWriMo project, first 50 pages.  Nope.  I’ll work on this later.

Submissions: Submit to one editor/agent a week.  Yes, one query letter sent out. Also received a very nice rejection letter.  I know that sounds strange, but it was very nice.

Health: One exercise session a week.  No.  Does chasing down parades for two hours count?

The Great Purge: Taking one room at a time. I have made great progress with this.  I cleaned, washed, and scrubbed both bathrooms (from the ceiling down).  I also organized the linen closet and the pantry.  I feel so good about it.  I can actually find a washcloth.

W&*(^t :  Goal 3 healthy snacks a week.  I have snacked less, and eaten yogurt.

I feel good about my progress this week.  I’ve enjoyed the time off, spending time with the kids and cooking real food.

How are your goals?


Mardi Gras part 3, Moon Pies

The Moon Pie

Moon Pies are to Mardi Gras as Candy Canes are to Christmas.  It’s impossible to separate the two. Crowds of thousands descend on downtown Mobile screaming for these round treats.  What?  You don’t know what a moon pie is?

It’s a cookie sandwich filled with marshmallow and covered in….something resembling chocolate.  The coating varies based on the flavor.  Every year a new flavor is introduced and at times one or two are retired.  Banana, chocolate, orange, and vanilla are just a few flavors.  This year peanut butter and mint were retired.  The complaints have been massive.  No they are not whoopie pies.

With the moon pie being so popular you would think these were local creations- and you would be wrong.  Moon pies come from Chattanooga, Tennessee.  They started making them around 1917 and cost a meager 5¢ a piece.  I’m not sure how they became linked with Mardi Gras.  The pair are, now, inseparable.  Hoards of people stand on the side of the street screaming for moon pies.  Once tossed to the crowd, adults and kids jump to grab them and then scour the sidewalk for the ones that got away. It would be easier to go to the store and buy them off the shelf.

The Moon Pie is so iconic to Mobile, that on New Year’s Eve we drop a giant replica from the side of a hotel.

The newspaper, or what passes for a paper, is filled with recipes that use the sought after treat.  I’ve heard the moon pies you buy at the store aren’t as good as the ones you catch in the wilds of the parade. If all else fails and you find yourself with a mess of moon pies, deep fry them.

What’s your favorite flavor?