Ghost of Mardi Gras Past

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This is a chapeter from the book My Cosmic Life, the journey of a modern day Shaman.  The book includes many of the wondrous and unexplained events of my life.  The e-book is available on Amazon


For many years being part of our local Mardi Gras Krewe was a family tradition. In Louisiana, Mardi is part of life, kids are even let out of school for Mardi Gras break! Even though being a single mom, finances were always tight, my decision to be a part of the Mardi Gras Krewe was one that was made to protect my daughter from what I considered to be the slipperiest slope of a day in our town. If there was ever a day that the almost legals get hold of alcohol or any other ‘party material’ and blend in with the crowd, this is that day. So, my grand idea was to put my beautiful daughter in a box, in the form of a Mardi Gras float, let her be dragged through the center of town and forced to throw good money in the form of beads in the street, safely insulated from the teens that were not making the best decisions. That alone made the seemingly hefty investment well worth it.
From the outside looking into the Krewe, you think that all it is about is the parade, without any clue how much planning and detail goes into executing this event. In New Orleans, there are approximately 40 Krewes, but in our small town we have 2, the Krewe of Janus, for the Mardi Gras style parade, and the Krewe of Barkus, fun for the dogs. Immediately upon joining a Krewe, you pay membership dues and are assigned a specific work detail so that you have a hand in getting this immense project off the ground. There are many parties and meetings, which my daughter and I enjoyed. I was able to bring her to the meetings and work details, while the parties were adults only. The meetings happened once a month, the first of the meetings are about electing the Royal Court as well as the King and Queen for our Krewe. The people who are elected to these positions not only have a place of honor, but they also have obligations which serve not only the Krewe of Janus, but also the community. In these meetings we also pick a charity to support for the year and the Krewe members do many activities to raise money for these charities. At the cocktail party in the late summer we excitedly announce the election results for the King and Queen. For the next six months it is a lot of hard work, fun get togethers and events.
Mardi Gras is aligned with Christian holidays and on the 12th night party we present the King and Queen of the Krewe in their full regalia. Twelfth night has religious significance because it is said that 12 nights after Jesus was born is when the Wise men arrived; this also marks the beginning of Epiphany. Epiphany lasts until Fat Tuesday, which is the last day before lent. Party on my friends before the fast begins! It should be no surprise that as Pagans were converted to Christianity, their holidays were integrated and that Mardi Gras, even having deep roots correlating with religious holidays, still shows its Pagan roots. In ancient times, when tribes celebrated fertility and welcomed the arrival of spring, the pagan festival that coincided was called Lupercalia. This was in honor of the Roman god, Lupercus and was a drunken orgy of merrymaking held each February in Rome after which the participants fasted for 40 days. To add more similarity to this the Romans donned masks and dressed in costumes then indulged in desires of the flesh all the while giving themselves to the gods Bacchus (god of Wine) and Venus (god of love). The Krewe of Bacchus is one of the largest Krewes in New Orleans while the Krewe of Venus is an all-female Krewe from New Orleans that made history by being such; as many tried sabotaging their efforts. Rotten eggs and tomatoes being thrown from a hostile crowd, as well as torrential rain did not stop this founding Krewe of avant-garde damsels on their historical 1941 maiden voyage.
I am telling you all this so you can understand being part of a Krewe is steeped in ritual and tradition. On parade weekend, the Krewe operates tightly like clockwork. We begin in the warehouse at the Krewe hall on Friday night loading the floats with our beads, throws (other trinkets to be tossed to the crowd) and snacks for the following day, and all last minute preparations take place making sure the floats are fully functioning and safe. Safety is a huge concern as the crowds can get a little bit crazy when it comes to catching beads and throws. On the day of, most of the Krewe members park at the Krewe hall and arrange a ride to the staging area, however, some of us like to go ahead and get on our float and ride it to the staging area. All this loading of people and lining up of floats takes a lot of time. You get to your float by 10 am and arrive at the staging area by 1 pm, and most floats have at least one rider from the Krewe hall to the staging area for security reasons as each member spends about 500 dollars or more on beads and throws. Although the need for security seems to diminish as does the red on thermometer.
Factoring in the weather, some years, being the person who rides the float over can be not so pleasant. This particular year, I did not want to ride the float over as it was below freezing all day. Even though there was electricity on our floats, there are no heaters for safety reasons. Doing everything possible that year to find a ride to the staging area for me and my kids, it just was not working out, no how, no way. Every year, I allowed my daughter to bring 2 friends on the kids float if her and their grades were good enough. But, even the parents of the other children were not available to help coordinate a ride to the staging area from the Krewe hall. The way our small town functions around parade day is a break from reality. You know to arrive at your designated spot on the parade route by 2 pm, as the street closures and the traffic can prevent you from getting anywhere after that. Some people even bring in motor homes and park a few days prior to the parade. Even though we are not New Orleans, sometimes the crowd of parade goers and bead catchers provides intensity that just cannot be described and our little town gets flooded with tourists.
Back to this particular year, it was cold, cold cold! As I mentioned, I could not find a ride for me and mine to the staging area and we were stuck on that float for what would end up being 12 hours in the below freezing weather, as you usually do not get back to the Krewe hall till 10 pm. And here we go, riding our floats over to the staging area on this windy ice cold day. That year, because of the weather, the float city was like a ghost town and not many people rode the floats over or at least waited till the last possible minute to leave the warmth of a car or restaurant before jumping on their float. As, we were making our trek, I went ahead and started hanging my beads, long beads, short beads, big beads, collectable beads, red beads, purple beads, gold beads and green beads. Beads, beads, and more beads! I knew I would go and help the kids with their beads as soon as we made it to the staging area, then we could find a place to eat and warm up till we rolled out. As we arrived at the staging area there was a photographer, and since I was one of the only Krewe members, there on my float with beads hanging, they wanted to take my photo. I told them I did not have my costume on yet, but they did not care. I just slid on my mask, held some beads, while being in nothing but my under armor. They seemed to be very serious about their efforts, but to me it was another shutterbug.
Many years later, my daughter was away at Louisiana Tech University. She was in the midst of a very difficult day. As par for the course with children of that age, she was learning to make her way rather than reaching out to Mom when things went wrong. She was in a waiting room, and much to her amazement, she looked down and saw that photo of her Mom looking back at her. That photo had made it to a Louisiana travel brochure, and as she was having her very bad day, there I was looking back at her with a smile. She told me that it gave her so much comfort to look down and see me there with her.
At the time, I had no idea what Mardi Gras photo it could have been and I called her and asked her to take a picture of it and send it to me. When I saw it I remembered the long series of coincidence that made up that moment. I knew that something greater than myself had worked to create that photo, so that when my daughter needed me, I would be there.

I posted the photo to my facebook and something unexpected occurred:
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway
June 7, 2013 ·
So it looks like one of my old Mardi gras pics made a mag. No idea which mag but someone sent me the photo. How cool is this ghost from my past? — with Denise Owens Ratcliff, Wesley Ratcliff andSydney Ridgeway.

Crystal Rowe Harkins, Claire Davis, Denise Owens Ratcliffand 14 others like this.
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway I miss my Krewe of Janus days!
June 7, 2013 at 3:03pm · Like · 1
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway Anybody in Hot Springs looking to start a Mardi Gras Krewe?
June 7, 2013 at 3:04pm · Like · 1
Mike Olivo lol and that ghost behind u in the pic…(top right..the white mist)
June 7, 2013 at 6:33pm · Unlike · 1
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway I noticed that
June 7, 2013 at 6:50pm · Like
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway Maybe Chris Davis or Dan Guthrie or Lee Allen can tell me if that is a ghost or not.
June 7, 2013 at 9:54pm · Like
Chris Davis the ghost of a pitcher of margaritas
June 7, 2013 at 9:55pm · Like
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway We were drinking yeagerbombs that day… thank you very much!
June 7, 2013 at 9:56pm · Like · 1
Chris Davis how can you drink those?? i love licorice but that stuff is just nasty
June 7, 2013 at 9:57pm · Like
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway Wesley Ratcliff, what year was this 2009? oh and thanks again for being the bartender that year!
June 7, 2013 at 9:57pm · Like
Wesley Ratcliff Jesus See Translation
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway Chris Davis, it was freezing that year… in Louisiana terms that means it was 65 degrees, I would have drank anything to stay warm.
June 7, 2013 at 9:57pm · Like
Wesley Ratcliff Man it was something
June 7, 2013 at 9:58pm · Unlike · 1
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway Jesus has nothing to do with the vices and virtues of Mardi Gras… oh wait it’s all based on Easter, maybe he does.
June 7, 2013 at 9:58pm · Like · 1
Dan Guthrie Look in that same area. You will see a face in the window.
June 8, 2013 at 7:10am · Like
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway Dan Guthrie that’s creepy. It was a float and it was only framed out, no actual window. I see it.
June 8, 2013 at 10:38am · Like
Kimberli Soulretriever Ridgeway One year while riding with the kids float I took some videos, Dan Guthrie look at how much energy the crowd puts out for some cheap plastic beads. You go thru 2 hours of all this screaming in a locked box being drug down the center of town. I can see paranormal activity being drawn to this It’s a free energy source.
February 6 at 2:14am · Edited · Like
Yes, my friends saw the ghost faces in the picture.

June 9, 2016