Yesterday Anonymous took me to task for being too harsh in my appraisal of Asheville's version of Mardi Gras in Monday's post. Anonymous said it was unfair to compare Asheville's Mardi Gras with the real thing in New Orleans. He claimed Asheville's version was much closer to the real thing than I insinuated because many former New Orleanians helped plan it. Then the final dagger: "You're probably not really from New Orleans, and I doubt you've ever been to the real Mardi Gras more than once or twice." Whoa! I was ready to ignore this as just another crank e-mail until my credentials were challenged. Them's fightin' words, partner!
Transplanted Saints Fan, Asheville, NC - 2014
(Click on photo to enlarge.)
So, Anonymous, if you're reading today, I am in fact a native New Orleanian. I was born on Napoleon Avenue in what was then Baptist Hospital. Except for my college years, I lived in the New Orleans area for the first 41 years of my life. While I'm no Arthur Hardy, I've been to Mardi Gras more than "once or twice". I've experienced Mardi Gras as a child sitting on my Dad's shoulders, as a teenager, as a young adult, and as a married adult with my own children sitting on my shoulders. I've done Mardi Gras uptown, downtown, in the French Quarter, in the suburbs, and even in Fat City. I know what a Mardi Gras parade is supposed to be like, and what I saw Sunday in Asheville wasn't it.
I didn't criticize the organizers and participants. The spirit and enthusiasm was obviously there, but they just bit off more than they could chew as far as execution. Is it unfair to compare Mardi Gras in Asheville with the real thing in New Orleans? Probably, but fair or not, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the standard of comparison. Understandably, it's a lot to live up to. Asheville's Mardi Gras organizers don't have to be ashamed of their efforts, but we have to be real about comparisons. Was I too harsh? I don't think so; I certainly didn't mean to be. But let's be honest, once you've eaten steak at Ruth's Chris, it's hard to be impressed with Ryan's.
So, Anonymous, if you're reading today, have a Happy Mardi Gras!