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The Lawyer. March 1, 2022.

Editorial: Magical Mardi Gras Special in Louisiana

If Mardi Gras is so awesome, one might wonder when another Fat Tuesday is coming today, why hasn’t it been copied across the country?

Maybe it’s because any effort to duplicate Mardi Gras beyond South Louisiana would surely lead to efforts to improve it, making it something no one would recognize.

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The charm of Mardi Gras – and its infuriating complication – is its monstrous inefficiency. Even in a temporarily shortened form in New Orleans, the parades are longer than any careful planner would have them. The distribution of beads and other trinkets is haphazard, excessive, lavish – in short, a reveler’s reproach to any student of logistics. When it comes to the Mardi Gras diet — king cakes, cocktails, gumbo and god knows what else — suffice it to say, it’s an ongoing revolt against restraint.

One can only imagine how a careful reformer could refine Mardi Gras if attempted in a healthier city – like Minneapolis or Peoria, for example. The parades would undoubtedly be shorter, more punctual, in order to respect everyone’s schedule. Transplanted to more tame places, a Mardi Gras menu could replace king cake with bran muffins, bourbon with herbal tea, okra with tofu. Departing from the decadence of Fat Tuesday fashion, revelers on this morally rehabilitated Fat Tuesday would all be wearing something not too tight, complemented by sensible footwear.

But the magic of Mardi Gras – the one we know and love – is that it transcends the average arithmetic of means and ends, the arid geometry of the straight line, the sinister insistence that the real facts are in somehow invariably better than heady fantasy.

Yes, Mardi Gras is too much – too much noise, too much food, too many things, too much conviviality. But like all parties, it makes sense of its carefree fullness.

Whether it’s the over-the-top Thanksgiving feast or the over-the-top Christmas celebration, most of our parties overindulge as a civic creed. It is our way of affirming abundance – our simple faith that life’s fortune, however generously spent, bears the seeds of its own renewal.

Mardi Gras comes at just the right time every year – after Christmas, and a weary world needs a bridge between the joy of Christmas and the promise of Easter.

Even in the depths of a global pandemic, Louisiana found a way to celebrate Carnival last year. The parades have stopped but the house parades have taken their place.

So much has happened since Mardi Gras last year. The country has been plagued by violence and anguished by divisive politics day by day, and not rumors of war, but reality hangs over this year’s celebration. Given the lingering threat of coronavirus infections — dozens of children, among thousands of deaths in Louisiana — restraint could be imposed on revelers. We hope and pray that there is reasonable caution in the wave of excess.

We need Mardi Gras more than ever, and we welcome its promise of a break from the cares of life, a chance to party and play.

As the good times roll and happy Mardi Gras everyone.

Editor’s note: This newspaper has published this editorial, with slight variations, in other Carnival seasons.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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