What I Wish I knew before my first Mardi Gras

The dust clouds of Mardi Gras are finally settling, so I want to take this opportunity to debrief. As a freshman, I feel as though I went into this five day marathon of partying and parading somewhat blind, although I did attempt to conduct research. Despite my best efforts to stalk the Instagram pages of upperclassmen for outfit inspiration, I still felt I had no idea what to expect. Mardi Gras presented a wild celebration that was most definitely a highlight of my freshman year at Tulane. Celebrating and embracing life with the entire city of New Orleans is an experience that cannot be replicated. Mardi Gras is the event of the year here, and takes its own form at Tulane, where students modify the classic purple, green, and gold stripped shirts to neon fishnets paired with that one rainbow skirt everyone seems to own. Tulane runs on its own Mardi Gras schedule and its own set of Mardi Gras social norms.

Now, having only three Mardi Gras left in my Tulane career, I feel the need to make the absolute most of them by reflecting on what I learned this year. Your experience depends mostly on your planning and personal attitude. Mardi Gras is something you must experience to understand to the full extent, but my hope is for my mistakes and triumphs to help others get the most out of the quintessential event at the forever number one party school (sorry President Fitts). Here’s what I wish I knew before my first Mardi Gras experience. 

Every day has a general schedule

This is the one thing that I wish someone had told me. Although there are many schedules floating around to follow, the basic layout of Tulane Mardi Gras is important to note. In chronological order: wake up, get ready (applying glitter included), take pictures then pregame (this order of events is important to recognize, and I have the blurry pictures to prove it), party near campus, attempt to make it to a parade, recover (nap and eat…please don’t miss this step for your own sake and the sake of TEMS), and party on campus again.

It is easy to take the best moments for granted.

Everyone and their mom host some sort of Mardi Gras pregame, darty, or rave. In an attempt to complete a tour de frats, I found myself in the classic cycle of party hopping. This strategy at first seemed ideal to me—do as much as possible to get the most out of Mardi Gras. However, looking back at the time I spent wandering Broadway bickering with my friends over which party would be the best, I am forced to reevaluate this mindset. It seems that in the midst of the most unexpected situations, one is able to find their most blissful moments. Rather than trying to experience the most things possible, I have decided to make it my personal mission to be more fully present in the moments I do experience.  

 It is ok to break out of the Tulane bubble.

I was truly surprised by the more wholesome aspects of Mardi Gras. Yes, it is the most intense party scene most freshman have ever experienced, but it is also an event where you can easily find grandmas dancing in the streets and children on ladders catching beads. One of my most memorable moments of Mardi Gras is meeting three middle school girls who befriended me and my friends on the sidelines of a parade. By taking the time to leave the college scene and join the New Orleans community, I was able to find a new perspective and enjoy the cultural aspects of Mardi Gras.

COVER PHOTO: Events Locker

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