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Make way for Mardi Gras

Make way for Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras will be here soon—March 5 to be exact. Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday,” is the final feasting before the Christian season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras. As such, Mardi Gras officially happens once a year, although one of our biggest fans, Cynthia Williams, of New Orleans, invokes its joyous spirit year-round.

Cynthia and her grown daughters—Erica Williams, a senior auditor, and Enjoli Nelson, a healthcare administrator—call themselves “The Nawlins Ladies.” They’re regulars at our annual Barn Sale, and they love to celebrate the event with more than a dash of Mardi Gras. They arrive the day before the sale  opens and camp in a tent decorated in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. They give Mardi Gras beads to fellow campers, and they wear clothing that celebrates Mardi Gras colors and their New Orleans heritage. Those colors, by the way, have some significance, too. Purple is for justice, green symbolizes faith, and gold means power.

So, yes, Mardi Gras is definitely their thing, and that made us wonder how they celebrate the actual event. Here’s no surprise: They do it big—really big. And they do Mardi Gras in MacKenzie-Childs style.

Cynthia, who is retired from a career in education that included serving as an associate superintendent and a charter school CEO, says Mardi Gras is the biggest event of the year in New Orleans. It’s also a legal holiday in the state of Louisiana.

Mardi Gras is the crowning finish to the Carnival season, which begins on January 6, twelve days after Christmas. The entire season is filled with traditions, and one of Cynthia’s favorites is attending the many parades. The parades, some of which are more than 150 years old, are often organized by social organizations, called krewes, and parade participants are usually in costume.

Cynthia, who carries some MacKenzie-Childs gear to watch in comfort, including our rollup On-the-Go Pet Bed and our Courtly Check Wine Tote, says the parades are unique. “Unlike parades in other parts of the world where you just watch, Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans are interactive,” she says. Spectators extend their arms asking for trinkets or “throws” from those in the parade. “The more throws you have at the end of the end of the parade, the better you consider the parade,” says Cynthia.

Another favorite tradition is the oval-shaped king cake, which Cynthia describes as a cross between a coffee cake and an iced cinnamon roll that’s decorated with purple, green, and gold sugar. The cake’s name comes from the biblical story of the three kings who bring gifts to baby Jesus, so there’s a small plastic baby hidden inside the cake. Whoever finds the baby brings a king cake to the next Carnival event. Says Cynthia, “The king cake is the gift that keeps on giving during the Carnival season.”

As a longtime MacKenzie-Childs collector, Cynthia incorporates our current and retired pieces into her Carnival decor. On her dining table, she uses our retired Trapeze collection, which includes the Mardi Gras colors, for the placemats, napkin rings, and table runner. Current pieces on the tablescape include our Thistle & Bee dinner plates, our Pheasant Run nosegays, and our Courtly Check napkins.

Moose on Parade, costumed in purple, green, and gold, takes center stage on another table. Meanwhile, Mack the Bear, Kenzie the Bear, and “Baby Mack,” which is our Mack Bear Bag, are styled to look like they’re riding on a parade float, which, Cynthia confides, is a Courtly Check Enamel Roasting Pan. Cynthia also displays a Mardi Gras tree fashioned from our retired Small Dressmaker Tree. Hanging from it are ornaments that include the Mad Hatter’s Hat, the Jester Hat, and the Steampunk Owl, plus Zelda Zebra, Zeke Zebra, and Bekah Rescue Dog from the Patience Brewster by MacKenzie-Childs collection.

If all of this makes you want to experience Mardi Gras and New Orleans firsthand, Cynthia says you’re bound to have a good time, because “New Orleanians know how to throw a party.”

“There is no comparison to other holidays, period,” she says. “It’s magical, it’s merriment, and it’s pure excitement.”

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