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A Mardi Gras float rider throws beads during the Tucks Mardi Gras Parade on Canal St. on Saturday, March 2, 2019.

There are many things that I love in this world, and Mardi Gras is definitely one of my top favorites. Many people not from New Orleans see Mardi Gras as another opportunity to party and get drunk. But, for me, it is much more. 

My love for Fat Tuesday started at a young age. Since I was a baby, my family and I would make our way to St. Charles Avenue night after night to see every parade. I quickly learned the ins and outs of this celebration.

People not from New Orleans see a clip of a "parade" on television and often categorize it as southerners getting wasted on Bourbon Street, when in fact most parades don't even go through the French Quarter. The best way I can explain this celebration is to compare it to an LSU football tailgate.

People of all ages come early in the morning, begin preparing all kinds of food, play games in the street and then get the perfect seat for the event. The difference is that a perfect seat for parades is any form of ladder that gets you high enough to catch beads instead of a stadium seat at a football game.

The planning goes on all year long, and expectations are constantly surpassed. The crowds get bigger every year, but there is always a place along the avenue for everyone. When Mardi Gras is rolling, everything else in the city stops. The ladders, chairs and tents that line St. Charles are a sight everyone should see.

Thousands of people camp out all day to have a great spot when the parade starts. There is cooking, costumes, singing and dancing. You name it, New Orleans has it.

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While growing up, I often asked myself why there was so much preparation just to catch some beads. I later realized it was never about the beads. It is about sharing what makes New Orleans so great. New Orleans is crazy, yet so simple. If you love the city, it will love you right back.

My favorite part of Mardi Gras are the bands and the float designs. The bands get the crowd energized and unite everyone through music. The float designs are a display of true talent. Every parade has a different theme, making them unique.

Another fun thing many people do not know is that each parade has a signature throw. The goal for many attendees is to catch the special throw and display it with pride. Whether it be a Muses shoe, Zulu coconut or Funky Tucks glasses, each throw has a different meaning but are equally special to the Mardi Gras tradition.

For some, Mardi Gras is about partying and getting drunk. Often, people do not even watch the parades. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with drinking and having fun, but it should be more than that.

The purpose of Mardi Gras is to celebrate with family and friends before Lent begins. Our culture is spread through the famous music the bands provide, the iconic Creole cooking on the neutral ground and radiating our southern hospitality.

There is truly no other place like New Orleans in the world. Everywhere else it is just another Tuesday, but here in Louisiana it is Fat Tuesday. This Mardi Gras, let’s all try and share our special traditions the right way and laissez les bons temps rouler.

Elizabeth Crochet is an 18-year-old political communication freshman from New Orleans, Louisiana.

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