How to Hitch a Ride on a Mardi Gras Float

LAST FEBRUARY, 18 months after moving to New Orleans, I found myself masked, hatted in a feather-topped fez, and dressed in a blue-and-hot-pink nylon tunic. I looked like a cross between a Medieval Times knight and five-scoop cone of sherbet. I was also having one of the more deliriously fun times I have ever had—as a guest rider in a Mardi Gras parade.

Like most people, I used to think Mardi Gras in New Orleans was special only as the provenance of the booze-beads-breast bacchanal now available in every college bar in America….

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