While the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade is my main celebration of the season, due to my proximity to the madness, I’ve also had some great Mardi Gras experiences in New Roads and Mamou.

But there’s nothing quite like Carnival in New Orleans. The sheer size of the festivities and the intensity of the celebrants make it a never-to-be-forgotten event.

My favorite New Orleans Mardi Gras memories include:

  • Riding on the Zapp’s purple fire truck in a parade with potato chip king Ron Zappe, and tossing bags of chips to the spectators on St. Charles Avenue — who reached up and snatched them out of the air, ensuring that all they had was a bag of crumbs.
  • Striking up a conversation with a couple on Canal Street during the Zulu parade, and learning that they were Zulu members taking a year off from riding — when the guy walked up to a float, was handed a gold coconut by a rider and in return handed it to Lady Katherine.
  • Standing on Napoleon Street one night as a parade passed by and being surprised when a black limousine slowed down and a hand reached out to present me with a gold rubber rat — and then being told that it was from Anne Rice and her entourage.
  • Watching from in front of Tipitina’s as the Bacchus parade rolled by, and hearing one of the masked riders shout “Smiley!” as a bag of beads nearly took my head off.
  • At another Bacchus parade, watching a friend of Lady Katherine’s from Minnesota experience her first Carnival — and getting so into it that she wound up wrestling for beads in the muck of Canal Street and exchanging kisses with strangers for especially impressive strands of beads.
  • Being locked out of the Royal Street apartment of Lady K’s sister when we brought down the wrong keys, and finding one of the last three rooms in the Hotel Monteleone on Lundi Gras — which meant we spent Mardi Gras morning in our room enjoying Eggs Benedict and café au lait.

This last incident happened on the Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina when the city was still struggling to recover — and, it seemed at times, to just survive.

It might not have been the biggest Mardi Gras in the history of New Orleans, but to those of us there, it was a first step back … and we couldn’t imagine being any place else at that particular time.

Still at it

Larry J. Landry says our mention of newspaper delivery reminds him of his paper route in Arabi in 1948-50 when he delivered by bicycle to 60 to 80 customers.

Larry says that at 77, “I still deliver papers. I walk in my neighborhood at sunrise, pick up the papers and put them near people’s doors.”

Original swine

Cecile M. Poirrier Bush says the Krewe of Roadkill, which cooked a huge pig during the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, isn’t the first to use the slogan “No Swine Before Its Time.”

She points out that it’s the motto of Three Little Pigs Bar-B-Q in Memphis, Tenn.

Cecile says Three Little Pigs was established in 1987, and uses the “No Swine Before Its Time” motto on T-shirts and menus and in its advertisements.

Inquiring Minds Dept.

Pat McCarthy wants some answers.

He says that for 30 years, “my dentist and the professional organizations have been discouraging the use of ‘firm’ toothbrushes.”

Pat says this has resulted in brushes that seem to be made of goose down.

But toothpaste seems to be getting more gritty all the time, and some of it feels like it has sand in it.

What’s up with that, he wonders.

Special People Dept.

  • Julia Welles Hawkins celebrated her 97th birthday Sunday, probably by riding her bike, which she does every day.
  • Joe Kowalczuk, of St. Francisville, celebrated his 92nd birthday Monday at a crawfish boil and oyster feast hosted by his grandchildren.
  • Alec Ruiz, of River Ridge, celebrated his 90th birthday Jan. 31.
  • Marvin and Rose Agnes Amorello Davis celebrate their 68th anniversary Tuesday.
  • Dot and Eddie Bennett celebrated their 62nd anniversary Monday.
  • On Tuesday, Donnie and Lou Bonanno celebrate their 58th anniversary.

Thought for the Day

From Harry Clark, of Lafayette: “Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy.”

Thanks a lot, kid

Danny Hogan says, “My wife and I were having dinner with our grandkids the other night, and I asked them if they thought I was old.

“Sophia, my 5-year-old granddaughter, said yes, so I asked her how old she thought that I was.

“She said 230.

“Guess I need Botox or something. …”

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.