Everywhere Else It's Just Tuesday: Busting the Mardi Gras Myth
Updated: Mar 10, 2018
It’s hard to put into words exactly how magical Mardi Gras time in New Orleans is. The city explodes with funky music, vibrant colors, avant-garde costumes and complete chaos with beads flying everywhere transforming the streets into remarkable and breathtaking scenery.
The weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday has always kept us busy with white glove lavish carnival balls, charity events, Krewe dinners, many late nights at the float den organizing throws for over 1,300 people, buying out all of Michael’s glitter, and designing Snapchat filters and other various social media images. What about crafting Krewe signature throws, hand decorating parade costumes, running back to the store for more gemstones, and even more if you can fathom!
But as crazy as it sounds, I absolutely would not trade it for the world. I usually savor every moment of each year’s celebration with preparedness and expectations for the next one. Mardi Gras has become a hobby, or the happiest third job a girl could ever dream of, but more importantly, it has pushed my creative boundaries farther than I ever thought was possible (even more than design school) and influenced my work with Front & Center.
Let’s first cover some basics: So what exactly is Mardi Gras?
The official Mardi Gras season starts on the feast of the Epiphany (locally known as Twelfth Night), January 6, and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. During this time, there are some masquerade balls, various Mardi Gras Parades and festive marching Krewes that take over the atmosphere of the New Orleans. Mardi Gras is actually French for “Fat Tuesday” because it’s a “last hurrah” of NOMMING on the rich, fatty southern delicacies before fasting for forty days. It’s a tradition like no other, to say the least. And we absolutely love it!
Why do you keep talking about “Krewes”?
Krewes are private clubs that organize parades and parties throughout the season. Krewes can be a small walking group that struts the streets of the quarter handing out specialty throws, a non-parading group that holds a ball masque, or a larger parading group (this is where I belong!). Sometimes, people are members of all three types of Krewes!
I ride with the Krewe of Tucks, where I am 1 of over 1,300 members! Tucks (for short) is a co-ed organization that has been established for more than 50 years. They are known for their satire humor and unique positive energy that is very relevant in every member. The story of Tucks all started with two college men who came together at a local bar, “Friar Tucks” to create an organization of jokes, laughter, booze, and overall just plain old GOOD TIME. I chose to ride with this Krewe because it truly embodies the meaning of Mardi Gras – having FUN, creating memories, and making friendships that turn into family.
The Krewe of Tucks always rides the Saturday before Mardi Gras and prides themselves on having the most awesome throws. Many people decorate plungers and toilet brushes to nod its “potty humor.” The king of the parade sits on a throne that is a literal toilet (no lie). You will also see LED beads, beer mug beads, beer barrel koozies, LED headbands, squirting toilets, toilet sunglasses, and more being thrown off of the float!
Within Tucks, I ride on a signature float called “The Tucksedeauxs”, a champagne float that spews gorgeous bubbles and is filled with 36 people I call family. Since this is a signature float, it means it stays the same every single year. In addition to the plungers and toilet brushes, our float decorates corks to honor our champagne theme. This year, I won the “Golden Plunger” award, which is awarded to the person who contributes the most to the Krewe without being recognized.
The Mardi Gras Myth
I know you’ve read that Mardi Gras ends on the Tuesday before lent, but that is a LIE. Mardi Gras, believe it or not, occurs year round. Yes, you heard that right. The planning for next Mardi Gras starts the day after the last one. We’ve already had our first one! So, it is a never-ending fanfare.
Let me take you on a ride through the creative side of Mardi Gras.
Behind the Scenes from a Creative Birds Eye View
We kick off the plan for each year with a theme. This year, I have been saddled with the responsibility of creative ideas, and the work has been overwhelming interesting. I have thought about 8 themes already (I may need more brain power to come up with more). With a theme at hand, each float is designed to have humor spin that relates to the theme. For Example, this past year, the theme was “50 Shades of Gold”, a few of the float titles were “Gold Digger,” “Golden Nugget”, etc. This has influenced the way I invent unique and innovative creative strategies to the client at Front & Center. Every work we do at Front & Center comes with intent and plan to help your business thrive and get noticed in the competitive world we live.
I am also a member of the “throw committee”, and what we do is to design new throws and organize the orders from thousands of Krewe members. Additionally, I help the “Den Divas”, a fabulous group of women who create about 200 centerpieces for the Krewe’s two major events; Coronation Ball and the Extravaganza. They are usually fancy plungers adorned with a mask, long feathers poking out at the top, beads wrapped around the staff, and of course, a glitter finish. I also designed the entrance to the Coronation ball where I created a balloon wall with white, gold, and gold dotted balloons floating next to the huge numbers 50. At Front & Center, having a strong work ethic is not just about getting the job done, but it also includes doing it right with so much creativity and flair that will put a big smile on the face of the client after completion.
And it doesn’t stop there. Robert Reichert Jr. and I run the Krewe’s social media account. We are constantly creating graphics to promote events throughout the year, gain new members, and in general, inform the public. I created cards without social media handles and hashtags. This way, the public can share their throws with the world and the riders can see they were placed in good hands.
As a Tucksedeaux member, on top of decorating plungers (this year I made a total of around 75 plungers), toilet brushes, and corks, we are in charge of our own costumes. You know how some people choose one color for bridesmaids’ dresses, with each bridesmaid’s dress looking entirely different from the others? That’s the look the Tucksedeauxs go for. The women wear white tuxedo jackets, a corset, and a skirt while the men go for a white tuxedo. One color is chosen every year which serves as our accent color, and this year, it was Gold. We decorated the white corsets with shiny, gems, and more glitter, and I decided to go out of the box and use white and gold feathers. Additionally, we are given an item to incorporate into a headpiece. Being able to think on your toes and outside of the box is a vital aspect to the everyday work at Front & Center. Brand consistency is a key takeaway from my time Tucks.
Ensuring your brand is on point from social, to throws, to theme, to costumes. Every brand at Front & Center is unique and special in its own way. Making sure the public can recognize your brand from your website, to your photos, to your business card with a spark of magic is something we strive for everyday.
Mardi Gras pushes my creativity beyond the level I thought I was capable of as it makes me create several designs on the go. Now, I know what it takes to successfully design graphics that represent the true values of the clients while appealing to the taste thousands of people. When added to my work with Front & Center, it is a sweet experience that has continued to improve my skills and increase the horizon of my knowledge. I look forward to working and having fun with my Krewes every year.