My daughter was hysterical.
“Why can’t we go to Ella’s??? You said we could go!!!”
“We can’t get there,” I said.
“We did last week!! Why can’t we??”
“Because Ella lives on Peniston, and Spartacus runs up Napoleon, over St Charles all the way to the Quarter!”
No, I hadn’t invented some Harry Potter-ish fantasy fiction to dissuade my daughter from a play date. On the contrary, we were desperate to get to our lovely friend’s home and bask in the glow of their raucously warm hospitality, but there was a problem. How to explain that we were corralled like a vilified member of the press into a sidelined box in the complex, labrynthine mayhem that is Mardi Gras?
New Orleans is alone among American cities in it’s willingness to allow municipal functionality to come to a grinding halt for several long, boozy, parade filled weeks. But in another sense Mardi Gras makes the city join ranks in that most American pastime—obsessing over traffic. Mardi Gras turns attempts at retaining the daily schedule into a relentless and particularly haphazard episode of Mr. Magoo: New York City has the Marathon (unless it’s postponed by another devastating hurricane), Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, UN sessions, Presidential visits, etc. Miami has Art Basel, the Boat Show, the Food and Wine Festival. Charleston has Spoleto. Punxsutawney has Groundhog Day. Toronto, Aspen and Cannes have film festivals. Munich, Octoberfest. Spanish cities seem to celebrate a saint every day.
Every major city vies to host the Olympics, a great boon to the economy, in theory. Sure to make traffic a nightmare, a certainty. What all these events have in common for the locals, whether it’s a large city event of small town parade, is the special hell of not being able to get around.
Add kids to the mix and the mayhem increases exponentially. They have school, extracurricular activities. And you have to get them there. They are also highly likely to be aware of the event and want to attend. If you have a new baby who isn’t aware of the event, you are still hormonally dazed enough to think it would be cute to take them anyway and post the pics on Instagram.
Spring is coming. People start partying. Below, eleven twelve (Beyonce blew a fuse) tips on getting through your city’s celebration relatively unscathed:
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