This is my second year living outside of New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Although Monroe may be in the same state, it’s really a whole different world “up north”. Last year was the first time I had ever been at work on Fat Tuesday. I suffered through it while scrolling through friends’ photos on Facebook and checking the parade and French Quarter cams on nola.com. I think I did manage to get a piece of king cake locally. I went home last year the weekend of Barkus, an all dog parade that winds through the French Quarter a couple of weeks before Mardi Gras. This year, since I’m taking a trip to Aspen at the end of the month, a weekend trip to catch beads and gorge myself on fried oysters and beignets isn’t in the cards. A couple of weeks ago, I heard that there are actually a couple of parades here in the Monroe area. One of them happens to be a pet parade on a Saturday afternoon. I made my plans to go and gave my dog Baby, a 12 year old black pug, a bath early on Saturday morning. The 7th annual Mardi Gras Pet Parade benefits PAWS (Pet Assistance Welfare Society) of Northeast Louisiana, an amazing all volunteer non-profit that provides many wonderful services to the animals and humans in our area.
After Baby dried off, she put on her little bomber jacket and we patiently waited on the porch for our ride to arrive. The parade runs only a short distance down Trenton Street, or Antique Alley as it’s known locally. Once we found a parking spot, we piled out of the car into the sunshine and joined what I think was the entire population of Monroe and West Monroe combined in getting a good spot to view the parade. There were lots of people and their four-legged friends, and Baby got lots of hugs, kisses and petting from a large group of cute little girls.
We could see the parade starting, so we begged our way to the front of the barricade to get a good view. My arm was already starting to ache from holding a 12 pound pug in the crook of my elbow, but what could I do? She doesn’t like to be left on the ground in a crowd. We both perked up when we saw the first of the costumed dogs and their floats. From huge Mastiffs, to tiny I-don’t-know-whats, just about every breed of dog was on display. Some of my favorites included the “Doxy Dynasty” dogs, a play on the local boys made famous on A&E’s Duck Dynasty; a large black lab in a full body purple leotard; a Brussels Griffon (because they look like Ewoks); and the very best of all: a goat in a tutu who had painted horns and hooves.
Sometime during the parade I did pass the pug off to a friend, and so when the parade was done I found her curled up on a cozy lap in the sun. Everyone was smiling, laughing and pointing out cute dogs. Although I do still miss New Orleans, I have to admit it was refreshing to not be sitting in bumper to bumper post-parade traffic with horns blaring. I think I made it to Starbucks in about 15 minutes! Life in a small town can be really good sometimes. This year, I have eaten no less than 4 different king cakes, been to a great pet parade, have WWOZ streaming online at my office, and my wig and costume are ready for me to wear to work on Tuesday. I’m going to stick out like a sore thumb, but I can’t abandon Fat Tuesday all together. To all my friends and family in New Orleans, laissez le bon temps rouler!Sarah Hoffman Marketing & Social Media John Rea Realty