Cities like Starkville need to embrace Mardi Gras traditions

Happy belated Mardi Gras, Bulldogs. It is the most wonderful time of the year, if you live in the South, that is. If you live up North, you might be asking yourself, "Mardi what?"

Mardi Gras is a wonderful time of Fat Tuesday preparations, including parades, beads and festivities.

Being from the Midwest, I had barely heard of Mardi Gras, much less experienced it. But now going to school in the South, I see Mardi Gras everywhere during this Pre-Lenten time. Should the rest of the country get with the program and hop on this parade float style bandwagon of bead-throwing and mask-wearing fun? After attending my first Mardi Gras celebration, I am an avid advocate for celebrations everywhere.

Mardi Gras is a long standing tradition within the southern states with street processions beginning in the 1830s, which have since transformed into the loud and lively parades we enjoy today.

According to Dave G. Hauser of the Chicago Tribune, six out of the seven best and biggest Mardi Gras celebrations are in the southern states. Which city is the outlier? St. Louis is number seven on the list; which makes sense, as St. Louis was founded by French fur traders and French tradition runs deep within Mardi Gras Festivities. But it is unfair these big cities get to have all the fun. Small cities deserve their chance to make it big on the list of best Mardi Gras celebrations.

According to Jed Lipinski of Nola.com, a study done at Tulane University showed the 2014 Mardi Gras celebrations brought $465 million to New Orleans' parish alone. There is economic profit to be made from these exciting celebrations, and more northern cities should recognize this. Mardi Gras is rich in French tradition and southern pride, which might be one reason why more northern states have not adopted these wild celebrations yet.

What is not to love about being hit in the face with beads as parade floats blast ridiculously loud party anthems from 2008?

Personally, I think it is time for more Northern cities to adopt this fun tradition, and smaller Southern cities like Starkville could benefit from it, too.

Having Mardi Gras celebrations in Starkville would give a lot of students who have never experienced anything like it before a chance to get their feet wet before they decide to take on a big celebration like New Orleans. It is a wonderful cultural experience. 

The first Mardi Gras celebration was not even held in New Orleans, according to Jesse Greenspan of The History Channel. If you ask anyone from Mobile, Alabama, they will fight you to prove their city was the origin of Mardi Gras before it migrated around. Now, New Orleans is the Mardi Gras hub of the U.S.

If we start with a small celebration in Starkville, think of where we could be in a decade or two. College kids love to party, and what better place than StarkVegas to set the stage for the next big Mardi Gras celebration. It is like downtown Starkville was destined to be a parade route, and with Cajun restaurants like Oby’s and Rosey Baby, we already know Starkville has a sweet spot for all things New Orleans.

Having our own Mardi Gras celebration would be a great way to bring the diverse student body of Mississippi State University together with the residents of Starkville, and help us to all celebrate a common culture and a cool tradition. Not only is Mardi Gras fun, it brings people together. After never having experienced Mardi Gras before this weekend, I am now pro-Mardi Gras all the way, and it is absolutely time for Starkville to feel the same way too.

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