By DENISE FEDOROW Columnist
---- — I just returned from another trip to Texas, financed by my BFF. The trip was a gift from her. She was itching to get back to the Lonestar State (and watch a rodeo) and knew that I always wanted to go to Mardi Gras in Galveston. As fate would have it, they were happening at the same time.
So we took to the skies, headed to Houston to join the other half of our foursome we’ve dubbed “The Texas Golden Girls” — two of my many cousins.
Deb was excitedly planning for months and wanted us to arrive looking the part, so she got us novelty cowgirl T-shirts, western shirts and hats to go with our boots and jeans. Our first fun activity was hitting the casinos across the state line in Louisiana. We won some, we lost some, but nobody left with less than they started and it was fun.
(I love how when my cousins win they put the money back to help others in need.)
We wavered back and forth about whether to bypass Galveston’s Mardi Gras in favor of a smaller celebration in nearby Kemah. Cousin “Gee” said Galveston’s celebration is getting almost as rowdy as New Orleans in recent years. But she finally decided we needed to experience it. Since we were going on Friday night — not the night of the biggest parades — maybe it would be OK.
Galveston’s strand has balconies much like they have in New Orleans. Balcony parties are a great way to see the parades. But we wanted beads.
We learned another cousin’s son was going to be on a pirate ship float and would give us handfuls of beads. That night and the next were two of the balmiest while we were there as the polar vortex had its grip on southeast Texas, too. The crowds were slim because of the rodeo barbecue cook-off contest that same night, so boy did we ever get beads!
We counted them up and we each had more than 100 strands. Deb had the most at 163 (and that was after she sold some.) We had a combined total of more than 500 strands of brightly colored Mardi Gras beads (and no, nothing inappropriate was done to receive them)
The plan was to follow cousin Mel’s float around the block so we’d get more beads from him and other floats, but we got so caught up in collecting beads that had fallen to the ground we almost forgot. We started walking and I saw the pirate ship floating down the street. I yelled and took off running.
My cousin “Reen” was in hot pursuit. She was carrying the sign we’d decorated with Mel’s name on it and a sign pointing to us so he’d see us in the crowds. I looked back once to see that sign bobbing up and down as she ran. I jumped the curb yelling, “Mel! Mel!” and reached the float just in time for him to shove a handful of beads at me.
Victory! Pain! Back spasm!
I limped back to my cousin and Deb. I forgot I have a middle-aged, injured body.
That lapse of intelligence was really in vain as I didn’t realize the floats keep going around and around the blocks several times.
After that, we were ready to call it a night. And things were starting to turn wild — a naked sax player was posing for photos on the strand. So as we waited for “Gee” by the entrance standing with 10 pounds of beads around our necks (actually closer to 5, I just weighed them), Deb took some off her neck and had them draped around her arm.
The younger crowd was arriving and a girl asked how much she wanted for the beads. She turned to “Reen” to ask her what she should charge and “Reen” said four for $1.
“$1 each!” Deb told the girl and sold five.
Person after person came up to her then thinking she was either passing them out or selling them. She was getting bold when I pulled her aside and advised her to keep it on the down-low. She might get in trouble as vendors had paid money to sell their wares. We had a good laugh about it, though.
“Gee’s” husband said, “Wait till they find out they walk a block to get all they want for free. They’ll realize they were hosed by a Hoosier.”
Denise Fedorow is a columnist and correspondent with The Goshen News. Her column appears every other week.