Articles touting numerous body-based stretches have a way of showing up in our inboxes, and on our social media feeds, in the weeks following New Year's Day. "New year, new you" is the theme, and working out those shoulder kinks is part of the plan.
But one bodily stretch not often covered at this time of year, but much practiced, is the Bead Reach. It's only observed at Mardi Gras, and it requires the person desiring beads to make their arm long, and their hand grabby, while not bumping the bead-desirer next to them.
The Original Farmers Market at Third & Fairfax will see this particular stretch go into full effect over the middle weekend of February. That's Saturday, Feb. 14 and Sunday, Feb. 15, and, as is tradition, the shiny plastic purple/green/yellow beads that signify Fat Tuesday will fly off the upper balcony of the Market to the arm-stretched crowds below.
What to do, where to go and what to see
Oh, and about Fat Tuesday? Farmers Market celebrates that evening, too. It's one of the quirkiest holiday schedules in town, and a schedule honored yearly: The landmark public market parties for two long days, takes a Monday rest, and then starts up again on the Tuesday that is Mardi Gras.
Also on the laissez le bon temps rouler roster: Strolling brassy bands, a wandering jester, zydeco tunes, kidly activities, and, you got it, the always awww-inspiring pet parade (which includes strollers and wagons done up in their Bourbon Street-float best).
The pet parade, by the by, is called Mutti Gras, but then of course, somewhere deep down inside, you already knew that.
The Market's own Gumbo Pot will keep a steady queue, as revelers want beignets. Lots and lots of beignets, and the traditional savory meaty spicy eats of New Orleans, too (hello, steaming bowls of gumbo).
Note that the all-important bead-tossing tends to get heavy during the weekend celebration, while Fat Tuesday itself is all about the tunes. Eddie Baytos & The Nervis Bros will be providing those, brassily and stompily and in all the ways that make the music of the The Big Easy so easy to dance to, for hours.
You're dancing, right?
The dancing and the music and the beads and the bayou-style sweetness are all free. Those beignets will cost you, and any other food or drink, but we all keep an emergency beignet fund, in some back drawer, right? For just these moments?
If not, we advise you to start one at once. Now, best start practicing that Bead Reach.