Mormon Mardi Gras

Just in time for Pioneer Day on the 24th, I thought I’d share some photos from the Pioneer Day Parade float preview that I went to last Monday. Obviously I knew that there is a parade on the 24th, but I can’t remember ever watching it on TV, and I know that I haven’t gotten up early to stake out a spot for it. In fact, before living in New Orleans, parades didn’t really capture my interest. But then I went to my first Mardi Gras parade and fell in love. Suddenly, it didn’t seem crazy at all for people to camp out for a good spot on the parade route or circle a neighborhood for parking for half an hour. I don’t really like crowds or hassles so I often don’t put forth the effort to attend big events and just kind of assume it won’t be worth it. But Mardi Gras is totally worth it, and if you ever get the chance to go, you should go.

My mom and brother visited us in New Orleans once in October, and we felt bad that they wouldn’t get to experience Mardi Gras (I promise, this is part of the post), so we took them to Mardi Gras World where you can see all of the floats created for Mardi Gras. It was awesome, although obviously not as good as actually being to a parade in person.

Going to see the float preview for the Pioneer Day Parade felt a lot like going to Mardi Gras World. I had no idea what to expect from the floats. I knew that most of them were made by volunteers, so to be honest, I didn’t expect much. Imagine my surprise when they turned out to be amazing. Although, it was a little strange because almost every float was religious in nature. They all talked about faith, sacrifice, temples, missionary work, zion, etc. And the art work for many of them seemed to come straight from the illustrations of The Friend, a church-produced magazine for younger kids. It filled me with nostalgia.

But they were church-related floats with tons and tons of glitter and sparkle!

Like I mentioned, most of the floats were created by volunteers. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized into wards (congregations) and stakes (similar to a dioceses) made up of several wards. Most of the floats were created by different stakes. Here’s the one that my stake put together.

Huge desserts! Is there anything more whimsical than huge desserts? The preview event allowed you to vote for the best float. During church the day before, we were encouraged to go vote for the stake float. I wanted to vote for ours, of course, but I wouldn’t vote for it if it wasn’t any good. Luckily, I could vote for it with a clear conscience. Although I was torn because the stake I grew up in also had a float in the parade that was pretty great.

Of course, there were a few other churches that had some floats in the parade. I could tell the one with the big Jesus wasn’t a Mormon one right away. Not that we don’t believe in Jesus. We just don’t usually make big ones for a float.

And there were some secular floats, too. Like two of them.

And one church-made float that looked more secular.

The train actually went in and out of the tunnel.

Here’s the thing about floats, the sparklier the better. There was an impressive float with a zeppelin and a handcart and a pioneer quilt, but well…

it still just looks kind of dreary. It could use some glitter.

They also had lots of activities at the preview, such as foam swords to fight, sheep to pet, beanbags to toss, candy to eat, and a marching band to hear. I thought it was so cool that I told Izzy and Kylie they should take their kids the next day.

But I probably won’t be camping out tomorrow night for a good spot to see the Pioneer Day Parade because it is missing one very important element. Beads! What’s the point of a parade if you can’t shout at the top of your lungs, “Throw me something, mister!” over and over again? What’s the point if you don’t go home with bags of colorful beads and useless throws? What’s the point if you can’t hope for a decorated shoe or a coconut? Or even catch a cabbage? No, I’m afraid that New Orleans created my love for parades, but my desire to attend them died when I left that beautiful city. The float preview is good enough for me.



  1. Mark Bousquet · July 23, 2012

    Awesome floats (love the Legos!), and yeah, the zeppelin numbers seems a bit … dreary, compared to the rest. (The cool thing is I’m totally procrastinating from writing and was glad to see you had a new entry posted … until I got to that last image because the story I’m writing takes place on a zeppelin. Which is a pretty good sign it’s time to get back to work …)


  2. cristen · July 23, 2012

    i now fully believe lisa frank is mormon.

    • katie · August 1, 2012

      that would be amazing.

  3. Erica · August 13, 2012

    The title of this post made me L.O.L.

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