CULTURE SHOCK | Gulf Coast Mardi Gras (part 1)


I just had one of the most surreal but most fun weekends ever. As I said in this post, my entire family went down to Biloxi, Mississippi last weekend to participate in the Gulf Coast Carnival Association Mardi Gras weekend festivities because my cousin Jennifer was a maid in their Mardi Gras court this year.

In approximately 72 hours I went to 8 parties or events, wore 4 dresses and 2 themed tshirts, collected a BAZILLION beads (no flashing involved. ew.) and drank approximately that many glasses of champagne. We really didn't know what was in store for the weekend, but each successive event was even more over-the-top than the last, and Mardi Gras certainly didn't disappoint.

To give you a full run-down of the festivities, I'm going to break this up into 2 posts. But I think they're still going to be long ones, so settle in, grab your own glass of champagne, and get ready to let the good times roll!


We flew into Biloxi late on Friday night, so Saturday was the first day of festivities. And just so you know, we is:

  • Myself and Andy
  • Sister Rachel and husband Andrew (confusing, right?)
  • Sister Haley
  • Mom and Dad

Anyway, we got up Saturday and got ready to attend the Queen's Luncheon.

Background: The Gulf Coast Carnival Association is an exclusive Mardi Gras Krewe, and every year they pick their King and Queen. The King is an established middle-aged man, and the Queen is a young 20-something year-old woman. (I don't know why this is, chalk it up to tradition.) The King and Queen have a royal court made up of Dukes and Maids. The King and Queen each pick 4 of their own members of the court, and the association picks the other 4.

Now, when I think luncheon I have quaint visions of a small party of women having a nice light lunch Downton Abbey style. That is not what this is.

We walked in to a ballroom elegantly set for the Queen, her maids, and 600 of their closest friends and family. A band was playing on stage, multiple open bars were stocked with lots of wine and champagne, and a hand-painted crown was wrapped as a gift at each place setting. Guests included the First Lady of Mississippi, wives of Senators, city councilwomen, and pretty much anybody who is anybody in Gulf Coast society. Oh, and we were there too - slightly under-dressed (it was a theme for the weekend).

While the ladies were enjoying a 5-course lunch, the boys donned their assigned Saturday Jennifer-customized shirts and hit the pier for a crawfish boil hosted by the Queen's father (I think). Halfway through my 2nd course of lunch, I got a text that the Andrews had already "destroyed" their first platter of crawfish. After the luncheon, we joined them so my sisters could have their first crawfish experience.

Look at how nicely Andy is helping Rachel... he's a fast learner, that one.


After the crawfish boil, we went back in to the hotel and sat and chatted for awhile since it was the first time we had all been together. Then the best thing that could have possibly happened happened. We made plans to all go to dinner at Mary Mahoney's, which happens to be my favorite restaurant ever.

Mary Mahoney's Old French Housecharm,Presidents,

My very favorite thing (next to the gumbo, which has ruined me for all other gumbo) is the Sisters of the Sea Au Gratin. Side-by-side creamy, cheesy, comforting au gratin dishes - one with crab, the other with shrimp. I can't spend too much time writing about it, it makes me hungry and sad that I can't have it more often.

They do ship their gumbo and a few other things on the menu if you're dying to try it now. (Hey Aunt Avonna - my birthday is in March! :) )

But guess what - our Saturday wasn't over yet! Mardi Gras isn't just about the parties, it's also about the (daily) after parties. We pretty much rolled ourselves back to the hotel ballroom which had once again been transformed - this time with more bars, buffets of food, a large dance floor, and an exuberant band called Bag of Donuts playing in full costume with a massive light show. I was a little disappointed that I didn't actually get a bag of donuts, but that could have just been the exhaustion. Stay tuned for part 2!