Well, it's Mardi Gras time and everyone is in full on party mode around the Lake Area. There are more parties than you can shake a stick at and, of course, there are the parades. Now, I've ridden in so many parades I've lost count and I've become somewhat jaded about the whole process. I decided to breathe a little life into the whole parade experience by finding a friend to ride along with me.

Last Friday as parade time was approaching, the lady I had lined up to ride in the parade canceled out because she had to go to work. Well, I had agreed to meet this lady at Mac Farlane's Pub, so, by the time I got the message that she couldn't make it, I was already at the pub waiting. Don't get ahead of me on this story. I was drinking coffee. Not "Irish" coffee, but plain old Community.

When my lady friend canceled, I knew I had to find another person to ride in the parade with me because drivers are not supposed to throw things. Drivers are supposed to drive. So, I took a look around the table of friends that just happened to be there and I quickly chose one of them.

Now, my friend Joe is a great guy and always ready to help a friend. Joe quickly agreed to ride along in the parade. At that point Joe would have probably agreed to just about anything because he was not just drinking coffee. Joe was, let's call it "happy". I didn't figure that mattered since I just needed someone to throw beads. Let's sidetrack for a moment here and talk a bit about Mardi Gras beads.

Mardi Gras beads can get pretty expensive and when you have 5 radio stations to supply with beads, it can really run into money, so we've all learned to pace ourselves when throwing beads to the crowd. Anyone who has ever run out of beads during a parade can tell you that the crowd turns nasty. The idea is to throw the last of the beads as the procession reaches Ryan and Sale.  It hasn't always worked out that way.

More than once, I've been riding in a parade with a fraction of the beads it takes to do a whole parade. Like I said, it's a matter of pacing yourself. I imparted all that information and stressed how important it was to still have beads at the end of the parade. Joe, who was feeling little or no pain agreed to the terms and the parade began.

Once the parade started, I was so busy watching for kids to run out in front of us that I just didn't pay any attention to Joe or the bead inventory. Joe and I carried on a running conversation all during the parade. Joe was having a great time throwing beads and laughing at some of the people in the parade route.I wasn't keeping up with the bead count and it wasn't until we finished the parade that I got around to asking Joe if we had any beads left over to use in the Krewe of Krewe's parade.

I asked him what kind of leftovers we had and he asked me how many boxes we started with. I told him that we had 6 boxes when we started. Joe looked at me and said,"Well, we have 5 1/2 boxes left." Good old Joe.

Joe helped me change my attitude about riding in all these parades. I had come to look at such things as drudgery, but seeing what a great time Joe had throwing beads, I got kind of caught up in all the excitement.

Sometimes, we take our jobs for granted and it may take seeing our jobs through other eyes ( no matter how bleary they are) for us to appreciate them. I have to ride in one more parade. I'm looking forward to it. For the Tuesday parade, I have a driver. Think I'll try and start off at MacFarlanes and get the true spirit of Mardi Gras.

Happy Mardi Gras. See you Tuesday. I'll be in a throwing mood and, thanks to Joe, I'll have plenty of beads to throw.





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