Friday, September 20, 2013

New Orleans Spirit is Alive in the Form of Bead Hungry Fairgoers

The Big E Mardi Gras parade transforms the fairgrounds into an authentic New Orleans celebration with dazzling lights, costumes, beads and tunes. Since 2000, the parade has been a major Fair attraction, helping to draw in crowds from all over.

The parade consists of eight custom-made floats which were specially designed and constructed by the Kern Companies out of New Orleans. The floats are all unique; Boeuf Gras (Fatted Calf), Island Party, Caribbean Carnival, Carnival in Rio, Carneval di Venice, Mardi Gras New Orleans  and our African-themed and Patriotic floats! Fairgoers line the parade route daily to see these beautifully crafted floats and to try their luck at catching a few beads.

Being an avid fairgoer myself, I still remember the excitement that took over the grounds when the Mardi Gras Parade was added 13 years ago.

I signed up to ride on the floats every year for 10 years – until I finished high school. It was an awesome experience being able to see the fairgrounds and parade from an entirely different perspective. I’m sure things have changed since my days in the parade but it would always be a surprise to see what float we would end up on. My favorite was the one with the Hawaiian girl and parrot.

I loved the Mardi Gras Parade so much that I would try to do it every Friday. The parade was just more captivating at night. People were so mesmerized by it – the theatrics, the music and the free beads being thrown at them. Even though I usually shy away from attention, it was cool being keeper of the beads.

Now it wasn’t all fun and games. Mastering the art of throwing beads takes time. It requires experience and the ability to follow rules which are given upon being costumed and boarding the float.  

The Rules:
1.    Make sure you throw the beads away from the float for safety purposes. People are willing to risk their lives to get that stray bead.
2.    Only throw one bead at a time. There’s a limited supply per parade.
3.    Pace yourself! Don’t be that float that runs out of beads before the end of the parade route! The Mallary Complex is the halfway point.
4.    Don’t be violent and whip beads at the crowds.
5.    Try not to throw beads to people that already have some. Share the wealth! 
6.    You are allowed a few beads each. Don’t bring a backpack on the float and stuff it with beads. It’s frowned upon.   

Warning: The hardcore bead collectors do not let anything get in their way. As soon as the parade starts – it is game on.

Sound like fun? Now anyone has the opportunity to become part of the spectacle. I highly recommend you take advantage of it. It will be the cherry on top of your great Big E experience.

If you’d rather watch from the sidelines, you can get into the New Orleans spirit with The Big E Mardi Gras Parade at 8pm on weekdays and with The Big E Grande Parade at 5pm on weekends! No Big E trip is complete without seeing the Mardi Gras Parade, sponsored by Mohegan Sun.
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