by Dan Bolles
Sweet Jesus. What a ridiculous orgy of drinking the Mardi Gras Parade is. I guess that's not really a shocker, given that the annual bead fest is Magic Hat's biggest event of the year. But to be perfectly honest, we're three days removed and I still feel hungover. Thanks Lucky Kat!
Prior to my employment with Seven Days, I worked for Alan Newman's beer barony in various capacities for close to four and a half years. I started out pouring growlers in the Artifactory, eventually became the store's Assistant Manager (OK, assistant to the manager) and then switched gears, moving behind the scenes to learn the brewing arts. When I left, I was a centrifuge operator, which isn't nearly as interesting as it sounds. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure the only reason I stayed so long was to play on the company softball team. That, and finding a new job takes effort and I'm a lazy, lazy man. But I digress.
During my tenure, I worked through four Mardi Gras parades, but only actually saw "the action" on one occasion. The other three years I was stuck slaving away at the brewery while everyone else got to play. Two years ago was the one and only time I was allowed to ride on the company float. Frankly, it was kinda lame. Oh sure, there was beer. And beads. And throwing beads, before and after drinking beer. But something about tossing cheap plastic baubles to inebriated tourists left me cold. Or maybe it was the actual cold. Who knows? Anyway, my expectations for this year were justifiably tempered by my previous experience.
Boy, was I wrong. The Seven Days parade experience is vastly superior to Magic Hat and it ain't even close.
For starters, everybody dresses up. If you didn't see it, our float had a circus theme and we went all out. There were lions, tigers and gorillas ("oh my!"). We had a ringmaster, a strong man, a mime, a stunt man and clowns. We even had a bearded lady, who may or may not be writing this very blog post . . . ahem. In fact, our float was so good that we technically received the most votes for the "best float" competition as voted by the revelers. But since we're a sponsor we can't actually win . . . we got robbed!
Secondly, the beer is the same. The cool part is that if you're not affiliated with MH, you can choose to drink their beer or — gasp! — something else. Plus, we had jell-o shots. My pinky is still purple from scooping.
But the piece de resistance, the coup de grace, the bees mutha-effin' knees was none other than Burlington garage-rawkers Cave Bees who rocked and rolled from the Hood Plant parking lot, down Main Street, up Church Street, down Cherry Street and all the way back to Seven Days' offices. There were plenty of other bands playing on floats, but Cave Bees blew 'em all out of the water.
I still found the actual bead tossing somewhat off-putting. Grown men boxing out small children for 3 cents worth of plastic crap is nothing short of pathetic. However, thanks to my time playing second base for MH, my aim is impeccable. Vengeance was mine as beads, frisbees and moon pies flew straight and true, frequently finding their targets — i.e. the foreheads of overaggressive louts jockeying with kids for position. That part, I have to admit, was waaay too much fun.
In closing, I have to say I had a blast — though I could have done without the drunken tool-fest downtown during the parade's aftermath. Plus, I'm told this year set record highs in donations to the Women's Rape Crisis Center, which is really the point, right? Well, that, and binge drinking. But mostly it's the charity.