A Winning Carnival Season

Dear Tulane Community:

Long before last month’s historic Cotton Bowl triumph that capped our magical football season, members of the Tulane and local community were preparing for another season that would begin just a few days later. Fingers were burned by hot glue guns as sequins took on new shapes; discarded shoes were glittered into new life; new parade cadences were drilled into drumlines and krewes began to roll throughout the area. Now we have arrived at the peak of Carnival season, the signature cultural expression of our city.

If you’ve experienced Mardi Gras, you know it’s much more than just a party. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our connections with each other and with the New Orleans community. New Orleans and Tulane are both defined by a relational culture that creates lifelong bonds: between roommates; between research partners and between neighbors. Mardi Gras makes a space for us to celebrate these bonds and create new ones as we take a break from our studies and our work to immerse ourselves in music, artistry and dance.

Tulanians are everywhere you look on the parade route this carnival: students in the Tulane University Marching Band setting the tempo, faculty and staff stepping out with dancing krewes and that Cotton Bowl-winning team riding in triumph on a float. When the beads fly, you can live your dream of being a Green Wave wide receiver — as long as you remember your fellow parade-goers are all on the same team. If that 6-year-old standing next to you has her eye on a special throw, run defense for her and feel your Carnival spirit soar when she clutches her catch with a giddy smile.

Tulanians are also working behind the scenes to bring a more sustainable approach to Carnival. Empty glass bottles are recycled into sand for coastal restoration by Glass Half Full, which was founded by two alumni when they were students. Epiphany Throws, a local company with deep Tulane ties, creates biodegradable and recycled throws for parade krewes as an alternative to less environmentally friendly traditional options. Tulane community members volunteer with Grounds Krewe, a local nonprofit that recycles beads, cans and bottles on the parade route to reduce waste while also helping to provide jobs for people with intellectual disabilities through a partnership with ArcGNO.

And true to our motto non sebi, sed suis — not for one’s self, but for one’s own — Tulane departments and organizations are supporting Carnival safety in a variety of ways. To help students keep track of their phones and wallets amid crowds of revelers, Campus Health, the Center for Global Education and the Public Health Undergraduate Student Government provided students with fanny packs stocked with essential items. TUPD provides helpful Mardi Gras safety tips on their website, and Campus Health’s latest issue of the “Stall Street Journal” is packed with wise advice, parade etiquette and a checklist.

As always, during this Mardi Gras: Be joyful. Be respectful. Be safe. And before the season concludes, be sure to save a string of beads and toss it for a touchdown on the “Bead Three” sculpture on the academic quad. Sparkling in the sunlight, the colorful collection of crowd-sourced treasures will serve as our trophy for a winning Carnival season.