Today is Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. The day that exemplifies everything that is New Orleans: excess, a lack of inhibitions, debauchery and pure unbridled joy.
At least, that’s what New Orleans used to be. Words used to describe the Crescent City now run more along the lines of “horrible,” “tragedy” and “poverty.” A great city sunk by one part neglect, one part Mother Nature, and one part location.
New Orleans waited on the edge of disaster for hundreds of years, fully aware that one bad storm would completely drown the city. That day came last summer, and the combination of botched relief and levees that were never kept up as they should have been took it to a point so close to death that many vowed never to return.
But, as we’ve seen so far this Mardi Gras season, New Orleans is alive. It’s fighting to return to it’s rightful place in the world. It’s celebrating the fact that it’s still around, though that’s really the only thing worth celebrating down there.
Mardi Gras represents one final bash before the sacrifices of Lent. New Orleans’ sacrifices all came this past summer, and everyone involved has been in need of a bash for a long time. I’d say it’s quite overdue — in fact, I’m not sure what else they’d be able to sacrifice when it ends tonight.
New Orleans will return. The spirit and joy that I’ve seen on New Orleans’ residents and visitors this past week are a breath of fresh air to a city that shouldn’t even be around any more.
Tonight, it would be a good idea to raise a toast to everyone that lived through the hell of Katrina. Raise a toast to your family, your friends — those who you care about deeply that will never know, thankfully, what fully happened last summer. And, of course, raise a toast to New Orleans.
And Happy Mardi Gras.