Jan 7, 201407:41 AM
Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard

Carnival in the New New Orleans

Is it ever ok to get rid of old traditions?

I’ve written many times this past year about tradition – holidays, families, celebrations – but I haven’t yet stepped onto my favorite tradition soapbox: Mardi Gras.

When I first began taking part in Mardi Gras with my now-husband, I was excited to begin our own traditions, like hosting an open house for most parade evenings and having a “Fish Fry for the Dictator” for Le Krewe d’Etat. Now I’m more excited, and I’ll admit it, honored, to take part in the older traditions of Mardi Gras.

I like dressing up in floor-length gowns (with cute tennis shoes most often so I can stand up and dance all night long); I like seeing my husband in black-tie and in cut-away tails; I like dancing with him and my friends all night long to bands that are most often firmly in the “guilty pleasure” category; I like eating enough calories at 1 in the morning to last me the next week; and I like the presentations, the ritual and the history of the traditions I’ve been lucky enough to take part in.

I acknowledge that New Orleans stands at a peculiar apex right now, one that will definitely have an effect on Carnival; our post-Katrina city is excited to embrace the new – new New Orleanians, new technologies, new companies – while trying to keep a hold of the things we love. But that’s the crux, isn’t it? We don’t all love the same things about this city.

Carnival has the same issue: How do krewes bring in new blood without getting rid of the traditions that, in my opinion, make them what they are?

I’ve had heated discussions with wives of old-line krewe members, who have attended more balls than I ever will, over this very subject. Some of them are embracing the changes, saying that getting rid of “stuffy” old traditions is a good thing, and that new members will make of the old traditions what they will anyway, so why not begin the process now.

I disagree. I think those very traditions – tableaus, formal dress and masked members, for instance – are what separate a “ball” from being just another “gala.”

We’re a town that knows how to throw a party, but we also know how to throw a nonprofit gala and an impromptu tailgate, so why not keep the traditions of the Carnival institutions alive?

Getting rid of old traditions because someone might not like it doesn’t make sense to me. If you don’t like X’s traditions, then start your own Y, for instance. When something is missing in Mardi Gras, someone will find a way to fill the void; history has proven that time and time again – just look at Muses, and now Nyx.

So let’s not say out with the old and in with the new, but rather let’s add new to our old and celebrate all that we are and all that Carnival can be.

Reader Comments:
Jan 7, 2014 02:51 pm
 Posted by  honee hess

You go, girl! As a native New Orleanian now exiled in the frozen Northeast, I am continually aghast at what passes as tradition in the New New Orleans. I know, I know. I actually LIKED McKensie's King Cake in the day and horses at parades made me scared, but it's what made it different than every day life. And now that I've lived other places, its what draws me home (yes, I still consider it my home) 2-3 times a year. So keep the black-tie and floor length gowns with midnight breakfasts and real dancing. But let's make sure that the old tradition includes the old excluded and the new citizens so they can experience the depth and wonder of New Orleans like our parents knew.

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Uptown Life

Lifestyles, Galas and Gaiety from St. Charles Avenue Magazine's Morgan Packard


Morgan Packard may not be a native New Orleanian, but with every passing day New Orleans becomes more her home. Attending Newcomb College and gaining her masters from Tulane University, Packard immersed herself in the culture and peculiarities of the Big Easy, the culmination of which was reached when she joined the staff of Renaissance Publishing in May 2006. You can reach Morgan at (504) 830-7227 or morgan@myneworleans.com.




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