My brother invited me and my family to go up to Burlington VT for the annual Magic Hat Mardi Gras parade. My parents go every year, but I had never been. Its held the last week of February and can be a chilly event! This is what it's all about. The brewery Magic Hat is located in Burlington. *Side note: Burlington is a beautiful small city with an adorable down town and breath taking views of Lake Champlain.* They throw a huge party with a parade and music events down the center of town (Church Street). This year they added a costume contest to the list of events for the 1st time and when my brother told me about it, I dropped everything and started planning my outfit.
Luckily I always have my Queen Frostine dress in the back of the closet so I dusted it off (its looking kind of gnarly after 3 consecutive Santa Cons and 1 Halloween) and packed it up. My roommate had these amazing masks she scored from a television shoot. Its amazing having a best friend in fashion. I carefully packed them too and figured I could get a few last minute Mardi Gras themed items at Michael's. I LOVE YOU MICHAEL'S CRAFT STORE!!
Everything was going as planned, but then an epic snow storm centered around the Catskills down to NYC threatened to prevent my parents and I from even GETTING to Burlington! The bus was cancelled, the trains sold out, it was a disaster. Thankfully I found a bus the next morning to Albany and my parents, after many many hours of shoveling snow got their car out and picked me up on the way. After that debacle we were good to go. We arrived in Burlington that evening in time for dinner and before Michael's closed.
The next morning my mother helped me safety pin, hot glue and zip my way into my costume. It felt oddly like my wedding day with everyone's biggest concern being getting me to the contest location on time. However seeing as the people of Burlington are a laid back type and in no particular rush, they were not ready with their booth by the time I arrived! So we went to a near by bar and started in on the Hurricanes. CAUTION: Hurricanes are dangerously delicious! Here is a picture of me at the bar before the contest.
While we were waiting for the competition to begin we wondered if there would be judges or if the winner was based on crowd reaction. I was beginning to think I should be out on the street campaigning for my cause. So we took a few walks and ran into tons of children who were enamored by my Princess-like look.
Finally the contest was set to begin after much drum circle performing and dancing. (Another Burlington favorite pastime) The MC was the owner and founder of Magic Hat who seems to enjoy dressing up almost as much as I do! He announced the contest would be divided into Male and Female contestants and that a couple could not enter together (whew cause there was some clever ones.) I was feeling pretty confident after looking at my competition and before I knew it I was taking the stage. I waved, air kissed and acted like royalty in general announcing my name as Madam Mardi Gras. Next the ladies were narrowed down to 5 finalists. Thats when I realized my biggest competition was a little girl with an adorable renaissance dress on. DAMN! Anyone with a kid in the audience is going to cheer for her!!!! I was sweating bullets thinking about how upset I would be to lose to a 6 year old. But what is this?! After the big scary man yelled her name into the microphone she started crying and asking for her mother. My inside voice screamed "YESS!!". My outside voice said "Awwww, poor thing. Where's her mommy?". That was a close one! Now it was just down to myself, a drag queen and a Lady Mardi Gaga (Clever, but her outfit could've been 10,000 times better and furthermore if a drag queen won I would have to cry foul! You should have to technically be a woman to enter in the Women's portion of the costume contest.) Anyway the big moment finally arrives and Mr. Magic Hat announces the winner as MADAM MARDI GRAS!!! The crowd cheers (especially my family and friends, BIG THANKS) and he hands me an envelope with $500 CASH and invites me to join him in leading the Mardi Gras parade!! HORRAY!! After thanking Mr. Magic Hat and meeting my King of Mardi Gras I joined my family for hugs and lots of celebration.
The parade itself was fun and exhausting as I didn't get to ride on a float, rather I had to walk/dance the whole route. I have new respect for those people on TV at the Thanksgiving Day parade. What a great time!