When I first heard the suggestion that St. James not only host a Mardi Gras party, but one in which people come in costume AND that we also have a parade and a float contest, I fell into uncharacteristic pessimism. I thought that, at last, we – world’s most nimble and ready-to-try-anything parish – had run into something too monumental for us to pull off.
Adopt 24 kids for Christmas? Sure, we can do that.
Plan massive fund-raising dinners on short notice? No problem.
Organize teams to drive downtown to serve dinner to the homeless? Piece of cake.
But a costume party? A parade? Building floats? I had far less certainty about that. Memories of college Homecoming floats built using chicken wire and hundreds of rolls of crepe paper came flooding back. Would people actually do that? And wouldn’t we need a parade permit?
“No, no, not BIG floats!” Rose Applegate assured me, seeing my puzzlement when the topic first arose at a recent staff meeting. “Little floats. Pulled on wagons. And the parade would be around the Parish Hall!”
Turns out, this miniature float thing is a real thing. School children do it all the time in New Orleans. They pick a theme, then build little floats illustrating that theme. They can be modestly small floats pulled on a child’s wagon or some other wheeled contraption, or even tiny little floats built using a shoebox.
At last enlightened as to what was actually required, I decided this is entirely within our powers. In fact, this is something that has St. James written all over it!
I’ve already picked my theme. It came to me in a sudden flash of insight, and I’ve been chuckling over it ever since. A matching costume was easy to put together. And I recruited Kate Marshall-Gardiner to be my partner. She has excellent float-building skills.
So here’s my challenge to each of you: Do this! Come to our Mardi Gras party on Friday, Feb. 9. Come in costume. Or, if not in costume, wear a mask. You can get a cheap one for almost nothing in just about any store this time of year. Or for a little more, you can get a more elaborate one, with feathers or fur.
And enter a float in our parade. It need not be elaborate. It just needs to be something you can roll, push, pull or march around the Parish Hall. It can be in a wagon or a shoebox or a wheelbarrow or even a suitcase with rollers. Pick a theme that you like. Could be something to do with sports or music or getting old or something in the news or something going on in church or something in the Bible. Whatever tickles your fancy!
Then look around you and figure out how to represent that. Maybe use dolls. Maybe use stuffed animals. Maybe borrow a grandchild. Recruit a friend or fellow parishioner to join you in the project. Just have fun and be imaginative.
Then come out on Feb. 9 for our Mardi Gras party, and invite friends. We’ll be serving jambalaya and other Cajun concoctions. We’ll have Dixieland jazz playing. We’ll crown a King and Queen of Mardi Gras. We will laugh and sing and enjoy ourselves and this wonderful community God has seen fit to make us a part of.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!