My family LOVES Mardi Gras, but not for the reasons you might expect. We enjoy a parade or two, but we really love Mardi Gras because of our family traditions. We firmly believe that holidays are what you make them, and you have to put some effort into making holidays special. It’s one of my jobs as a parent, and there’s nothing better than watching the magic and excitement in my girls’ eyes when we’ve done a fun holiday event, and they loved it.
We are not anti-Mardi Gras. We also aren’t anti-parade, or other traditional Mardi Gras fun, because who doesn’t love king cake?! My parents and their friends decided approximately 100 years ago (give or take 60 years) that Mardi Gras would be an out of town adventure. This idea turned into 9-10 cabins at a state park, a cabin used only for cooking, our very own bike parade with decorations, a crawfish boil, and more desserts than I care to think about (because it is still Whole30 time in Casa de Courville).
My girls start asking when is it time to go to camping right after Christmas. They know Mardi Gras is just around the corner and have a hard time containing their excitement. They get to spend time with friends who are like family, exploring the woods, and eating whatever they want for 5 days. (Hey, they don’t call it Fat Tuesday for nothing, right?)
We also make a solid effort to include a Mardi Gras parade in our trip. When we go to our favorite cabins (our favorite for a number of reasons, but that’s for another post), there is a parade of locals who come straight through the park. However, since the August 2016 flood, their cabins aren’t fully restored yet. Our second option for cabin rentals is a great option for camping too, but no parade. So, we bring the parade to the camp ground. All the kids, and adults if they choose to participate, get their bikes decorated with beads, Mardi Gras masks, and other fun stuff and line up. When everything is ready, the music starts blaring, and the parade rolls. It may only be 30 minutes of fun, but it’s a great 30 minutes.
The most important thing about this time is that we are all together. In total, we bring 15 kids and 23 adults. That doesn’t include extra friends who are always welcome. We have our traditions and wouldn’t give it up for anything. Everyone knows breakfast happens at 9:00, so don’t show up early. The big green bowl is filled with rice crispy treats. Don’t mess with people when they’re playing a game of Back Alley or Washers. Someone is going to have to wash the crawfish pots, and it isn’t a pretty job. Night time is for visiting by the fire. Every family takes a night to cook AND clean. The 5 days we spend are full of laughter and love, and I can’t imagine celebrating Mardi Gras any other way.