I arrived in Millbrook at 10:48 a.m. for the Mardi Gras parade. I parked at the Presbyterian church.
The first person to greet me was wearing a Carnevale mask and cape. They immediately informed me they were Episcopalians, then asked if I wanted a beer.
“But,” I replied, “it’s not even 11 o’clock in the morning.”
“The Lord doesn’t live by Earth Time,” came the response.
A cold aluminum can was placed into my hand. I was ushered into a parade vehicle by a Millbrook policeman. My chariot was a snazzy Pontiac convertible, driven by the preacher’s wife, Miss Judy.
I rode atop the vehicle, waving to the crowd like a dork. I could see the looks on people’s faces as I passed by. Most were thinking, “Who is this idiot?”
My driver was cheerfully shifting gears. Happy as a clam.
“Are you an Episcopalian, too?” I asked Miss Judy.
“I am today,” she said, gunning the engine. “Hold on tight.”
Millbrook, Alabama, has been throwing a Mardi Gras parade for 18 years. This celebration is no
small affair. This is the largest Mardi Gras celebration north of the coast. “Southern Living” wrote about this parade once and said, quote, “These people are nuts.”
Which might not be a direct quote. But I, for one, can assure you that the people who throw this party are, indeed, bat-dookie crazy.
The Revelers Mardi Gras krewe is made up of approximately 120 folks who are deeply committed to fun. Most of them are in costume. Many have flammable breath.
“We maintain several floats, and we throw, literally, thousands of Moonpies and beads,” said one woman. “You throw so many Moonpies your arms are sore the next day.”
So I was excited. Mainly, because this is only the second parade I’ve ever been in.
My first parade happened when I was 13. I was a member of—this is true—the pitchfork drill team. Our…