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Life On A Crew

Photo+credits+to+Aidan+Cohen%2C+picturing+Aidans+sister+and+mom+w+their+crew.
Photo credits to Aidan Cohen, picturing Aidans sister and mom w their crew.

As the Mardi Gras festivities began on Friday, February 9 2024, the streets of Uptown, New Orleans were slowly consumed with the blasts of music and the warmth of hundreds of bodies. Standing along every part of the sidewalk, people were filled with joy as they danced with the purple, gold, and green circular beads hanging around their necks. Floats consisting of a variety of different crews flooded the streets trying their best to keep the mood as joyous as possible. The Crews costumes and throws leave all the children beaming. The big New Orleans city was filled with tourists from all corners of the world eager to enjoy the yearly celebration.

One of these many tourists was our beloved Aidan Cohen, a senior at the Emery/Weiner School. Having gone to Mardi Gras for the past two years, Cohen has the special experience of watching the different crews with her on eyes. “My mom and my sister ride in floats on a crew…Their crew is called Cleopatra and it’s an all-women’s crew. They are on the same float every year but the themes change,” says Cohen.

Cohen explains how in order to get onto a crew you have to know someone that’s on the crew you’re trying to get into. Once accepted and a part of a crew, “you have to pay dues and buy all the stuff that you’re going to throw.” Cohen clarifies, “[Crewmembers] buy like beads obviously and there’s also cool things like they’ll have pop sockets or cups.” These store-bought products are the inferior versions of “Specialty throws.” These specialty throws are “where the people on the crew make [the object they] throw.” Cohen continues, “For my mom and my sister’s crew they glitter plastic cups and they’ll write like ‘Cleo 24,’ so like whatever the year is on it, and then they’ll throw it to whoever is super excited or if you go up to the float and say ‘it’s my first Mardi Gras.’” This unique crew experience altogether adds to the elite sense of excitement displayed by the music and the anticipation as to which float viewers will see next. 

Most Crews no matter how serious they are, tend to dress up in costumes in an effort to add to the excitement of the overall celebration. As Cohen explains, “Cleopatra isn’t a super serious crew, but they all wear costumes so they dress up like Cleopatra and they have like the wigs and they have [dresses].” Leading us into the idea of what a more serious crew is. Cohen describes these more “serious” crews as “Super-Crews.” Super Crews and the Cleopatra Crew are very separate from one another. On the Super-Crews, “thousands of people [are] on them and they have 50 floats and they’re usually super strict about what you wear, but sometimes those super-crews will end their route at an event space and they’ll have like a concert which is really cool,” Cohen explains. These Super-Crews are the far more elite versions of the Cleopatra crew which has far fewer floats than the Super-Crews do. 

Instead of watching the floats drive down the streets of the vastly well-known French Quarter, Cohen and her family watched them as they drove down the streets of Uptown. Cohen explains, “The streets don’t have enough space for the floats, so they went through uptown which is right outside the French Quarter.” As the French Quarter has a tendency to be more of the party destination in New Orleans, Cohen further explains that “Uptown is the more family-friendly side of Mardi Gras.” This means there’s more kids and families around leading to this “Uptown” Mardi Gras experience acting as the PG-13 version of the French Quarters Mardi Gras experience. 

Cohen watches Mardi Gras in the same spot every year on the “sidewalk side” in Uptown. Cohen was unable to ride on the float alongside her mom and sister. “You have to be 21 or older to be on a crew because there’s a lot of drinking,” Cohen clarifies. 

For Cohen, Mardi Gras is a full-day experience. Over her four day trip, Cohen explains that during the festival, “We stand on the side of the street, might eat food, and just hang out.” Having gone to Mardi Gras twice now, Cohen explains how going to Mardi Gras has become “a tradition now for [her] family.”

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About the Contributor
Jenna Weitz
Jenna Weitz, Reporter
Jenna Weitz is a junior at the Emery/Weiner School and this is her first year as a writer for the 9825. She is actively involved in golf at Emery and is a member of the varsity team. In addition to golf, Jenna participates in Friendship Circle and regularly volunteers at her local library. 

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