Mardi Gras: A Family Experience?

Watch live streaming video from mymardigrasexperience at

Mardi Gras, a French Catholic tradition dating  back to the late 17th century, officially begins at the Epiphany or 12 days after Christmas and ends on the day before Ash Wednesday or commonly known as Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras a carnival where the elaborate floats, days and nights of parades and the throwing of beads has become a tradition. A tradition that has become associated with the dark side of the celebration – public drunkeness and a whole lot of T&A. One street has created a public perception that has followed the city of New Orleans for years.  Bourbon Street is not a very large street and while I wonder how one narrow street could almost  define the entire celebration, I take a look to the east and see lights and lots of them and in the distance, the Las Vegas strip and my questions have been answered.

In my 20’s I ventured to Mardi Gras for a few days of celebrating and celebrating I did (Pat O’Brien’s Hurricanes definitely were plentiful) and I saw first hand the madness of Bourbon Street and the overflow to Canal Street.  I will never forget that trip (ok some moments remain questionable) and have wanted to return – but with a child?  What am I nuts?  I mean, living in Las Vegas 20 min west of the strip and the strip clubs does give the false sense of security that my son will not know that this life exists but I know better but to take him to a celebration where flashing is encouraged and the number of drunks on the street outnumbers cars on a CA freeway, defies all logic.  But not this year, this year one man set out to change that public perception and bring you the real Mardi Gras.  He has revolutionized the way that we watch parades and celebrate the traditional carnival of Mardi Gras.   Tom Martin, in 2009 recorded his experiences with his iPhone and posted images and videos.  The success of this led  him to embarq on an ever bigger project this year and live stream the parades.  What was he thinking?  How can you live stream Mardi Gras parades without it being NOLA’s version of a gone wild episode?

Then it happened, I met Tom at Blogworld and he told me how.  The  perception while encapsulates my experience at Mardi Gras, is just not representative of  the entire celebration. I believed him not only because he is a family man but because I live in a city that evolves around one street and one image.  The true meaning of Mardi Gras and the celebration that surrounds it is the colors of green (faith), gold (power) and purple (justice), the parades, the beads, the food, King Cakes and the families getting together on the streets to enjoy the parades front and center with sensational set-ups of food and a community coming together to celebrate.  That is Mardi Gras, not the T&A that exists on one street. Still not convinced?  I invite you to see for yourself at MyMardiGrasExperience and draw your own conclusions from the videos, articles and photos.

Tom Martin, in addition to revolutionizing the way that watch parades, is always providing insightful information in his Twitter stream (@TomMartin) and also maintains a blog, Positive Disruption, that never disappoints. Friend him, subscribe to his blog and let him know what you think in the comments. I hope to see you all there as he is a pretty smart guy that leaves you thinking.

Oh yeah, the celebration of Mardi Gras 2011 ends on Fat Tuesday, March 8.  Tom will be out there next year … that we do know for sure.

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  • Thanks Suzanne. Great post and too kind comments. I hope we did more than change the way folks watch Mardi Gras… I hope we shed a bit of light on the future of tourism advertising/marketing as a whole.

    See you when you come next year 😉


  • Tom

    I hope you did start to shed some light as New Orleans has changed and the new New Orleans is still built on the same traditions of yesteryear. New Orleans has been the city of destruction and then the rebuilding. It will be such a learning experience for us to watch as the trend does shift from the city in ruin and city of new to NOLA being a city of tourism once again. You have laid down the groundwork to not only change the perception of Mardi Gras but to showcase the strength of the community. Bourbon street will not change and the madness will remain for the select group but for the rest of parade route, it is all about the family.

    Kind words … I can never say enough great things about you and the work that you do.

    I will be there next year and just hope that they make the ladder seats big & sturdy enough as I so have to have sit in one of them.