In a World of Girls Gone Wild, Mardi Gras Makes Me Think of My Dad

Tonight is the first parade of the 2022 Mardi Gras season in Mobile, Alabama.

While New Orleans Mardi Gras gets all the press (perhaps rightfully so), Carnival in Mobile predates that in Louisiana by about 80 years. It’s a more family friendly affair, although there are still plenty of shenanigans to be found. Growing up, we even had Monday and Fat Tuesday off from school as holidays so we could attend parades and festivities before Ash Wednesday, Lent, and the long road of repentance.

I have plenty of memories of catching beads and moon-pies to go along with throwing up in alleys and witnessing acts of depravity that shouldn’t be written about in public spaces.

But most of my Mardi Gras memories center around my father.

When I was about 6 years old, we made a bucket with “Throw Me Something Mister” painted in purple, gold and green paint on the side. He’d hoist me on his shoulders to brandish our colorful bucket as the floats rolled by. They’d shower us with throws and prizes. I’d scramble down from his shoulders and join the melee picking up whatever we couldn’t catch in the bucket.

Every parade night was a big deal.

We’d park downtown at my father’s office, an underground garage with an armed guard (federal agency) and I thought it was badass. After parking, we’d walk a few blocks to the parade route. Along the way was a hot dog shop owned by my dad’s friend, and we’d always stop for dinner before the vanguard drums of the parade arrived with the floats.

The smell of good hot dogs always takes me back to that hot dog shop.

I miss you Dad. I can only hope to give my own kids memories like this.

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