Fun time is all the time for New Orleans people

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The Southern Yankee with Sue Ellen Ross

With the holidays and play-off games behind us, attention is starting to focus on the celebration that New Orleans is most famous for – Mardi Gras. There’s no rest for the party-weary.

This week is the beginning of ‘Carnival’ season.

Before I moved to LaPlace, I had visited New Orleans on a regular basis each year, centering my vacation around Mardi Gras time. The parades; trips to the French Quarter; and adventures in the daiquiri shops were the highlights of my year.

Now that I live here, it’s not the same. Before, my friends and I had to cram in a lot of activities in one week, so our time was pretty well regulated and we accomplished quite a bit.

Last year, I didn’t get to any parades, due to my working hours and my laizze-faire attitude. My thought was that there were dozens scheduled, so if I couldn’t make it to one, I would attend another.

Once the Mardi Gras celebrations began, there was going to be some activity every night, so why rush to one particular parade, I told myself. Boy, was I naive.

When I finally did call my friends to make plans for the LaPlace parade (one of the last on the schedule), I was too late. Everyone had been going for two weeks straight and were all paraded-out, attested by the huge bags of beads they had in their closets.

Well, I would just go to the LaPlace event by myself, I thought. Right after my Jazzercise class, right after I threw in a load of wash, and right after I went to the store.

Little did I know that an unexpected phone call from my girlfriend in Indiana was going to keep me on the phone before I even started my chores. I lost track of time and the next thing I knew, there were no more parade noises outside my window.

I looked outside and found that all the beads had been thrown and caught, and everyone was packing up their chairs to go home.

I wanted to cry. But being the mature person that I am, I just swallowed my disappointment and figured, “next year, for sure.” My visions of filling up my pretend treasure chest (actually a small trunk I found in the garage) with festive beads and colorful coins would have to wait until the 2004 parades.

The next morning I found out that there is another way to catch a string of beads, other than the parades. (No, I’m not talking about the Bourbon St. scenario).

As I was driving to work, I saw a most unusual sight.

A woman was driving a pick-up truck with an 8-ft. step ladder firmly rooted in the bed. She was stopping in front of every house along the parade route. Wielding a long broom handle as she fished around in the trees, she quickly filled the truck with her finds.

It seems that some floats throw the beads a bit too high, and they get caught up on wires and get lost in the trees. I didn’t know if what the lady was doing was an accepted practice (remember, I was new in town) or if she was a little crazy.

I was wondering if someone was going to call the sheriff’s office, but by the look of the bead pile in the back of the pick-up, the neighbors didn’t seem to care.

Not one to buck tradition, I will remember this option if I don’t get to all the 2004 Mardi Gras parades. I wonder if my boyfriend will let me borrow his pick-up truck and new ladder.

Sue Ellen Ross can be reached at or (985) 652-9545 EXT. 208