A Parade of Creativity and Culture

Dear Tulane Community:

For much of the northern hemisphere, this time of year is quiet, cold and gray. Here in New Orleans, the city is awash in music, merriment, and color. It’s Carnival time!

After weeks of build-up we have reached the pinnacle of the Carnival season, a seemingly endless stretch of parades and festive gatherings culminating in Fat Tuesday. It’s a time to celebrate with old friends and make new connections with the New Orleans community. Those who have experienced it before can attest that the true magic of Mardi Gras comes in the moments of kindness between strangers. You’ll feel it when you share your best beads with the family standing next to you, when you make friends with the police officers keeping the crowds safe, and when you offer snacks to an exhausted marching band.

The magic of building community is magnified by the creative spirit of New Orleans, which is everywhere you look during Carnival. The hand-glittered shoes, the bass drums providing the heartbeat for each parade, the sequined costumes catching the sunlight are all part of the inimitable culture of this amazing city we call home. You’ll spot many members of our Tulane community participating as dancers, riders, costumers, musicians and more over the course of the Carnival season. The Tulane University Marching Band will make their final appearance of the season in the Krewe of Orpheus on Monday night.

On its surface, Carnival may seem like a distraction from studying, collecting data and writing papers. Yet the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once noted that “if people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.” During Carnival season our faculty, staff, students and alumni find inspiration and motivation in creative silliness. Breaking with routine and creating space for imaginative fun can create new pathways for thought and lead to intellectual epiphanies. Judging by the steady stream of research breakthroughs, life-changing innovations and impactful accomplishments of our Tulane community, there is true wisdom to be found in Wittgenstein’s words.

When you head out to the parade route, be safe, be respectful, and take care of yourself and those around you. I look forward to seeing all the intelligent things we’ll do together this semester after the purple, green and gold decorations are put away. 

Have a healthy and happy Mardi Gras!