Happy Mardi Gras!

February 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

By Shokufeh Ramirez, MPH

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

This isn’t a post two months too late. It’s a post about Mardi Gras! While most areas of the world carry on with their regular routines, New Orleans is entering the height of the Carnival season. I love that we’re so good at hosting one of the biggest parties in the world. Days full of tradition, creativity, music, glitter, and fun.

Tulane MPH students Emily Flanigan, Judy Rupp, and Upama Aktaruzzaman, at the Knights of Sparta Parade, February 2014

Tulane MPH students Emily Flanigan, Judy Rupp, and Upama Aktaruzzaman, at the Knights of Sparta Parade, February 2014

Having grown up here, in the years when I lived other places, I was always confused by the question, “Do you go to Mardi Gras?” (Despite the various songs suggesting we do just that.) I would try to explain that it’s not something one can really avoid. (And, really, why would you want to?) The city puts a pause/slow-motion on the mundane routines of regular life and redirects its attentions to a party, to which everyone is invited.

We’re not a city known for a high degree of efficiency, but we know how to do Mardi Gras and do it well. Every year, I get giddy weeks before Mardi Gras as I see the clusters of police barricades appear at major intersections, ready to be used to redirect traffic and corral parade-goers. And I swoon in the late afternoon of weeknight parades, watching various vehicles – city tow trucks, utilities, first responders – make their way to the parade route, readying to keep us all safe. (That’s the public health professional in me – always focusing on the system-level processes.)

It also makes my heart beat a little faster to show up at the parades themselves. To run into friends, to gawk at the amazing decorations – on floats and people themselves, to feel my soul infused with the beat of the marching band. All of it makes me love this city a little more.

I think New Orleans itself is one of the things that makes the Tulane experience so special. Mardi Gras is part of that.

Tulane MCH student Jorie Larson, at the Krewe of Nyx Parade, February 2014. Jorie marched with other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV), representing her host country of Burkino Faso, where she served before starting her MPH.

Tulane MCH student Jorie Larson, in the Krewe of Nyx parade, February 2014. Jorie marched with other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, representing her host country of Burkino Faso, where she served before starting her MPH.

Shokufeh Ramirez is the Program Manager of the Tulane MCHLT. She loves New Orleans and thinks you will, too.

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