Choir, design, Mardi Gras…..Oooh , it’s a squirrel!!!

Every year, around this time, my days are filled with choir both during school hours and after school hours.  Last week, we had two crazy evenings of Parish Honor Choir rehearsals, and then on the third day a full day of rehearsal with the concert taking place that evening.  So we thought!  On our full day of rehearsal, we normally provide our guest clinicians, accompanists, and teachers with a hospitality room—it is more like a “time out” room—a safe haven, honestly.  Since I became a choir teacher in the Parish, I have taken the liberty to decorate the room so our guest clinicians can somewhat experience what it feels like to be a celebrity.  I started off quite simple because even the smallest amount of decor was still 10x’s more than what the poor band clinicians experienced.  (Not trying to offend any of my band director friends out there.)  Each year, the task of decorating the hospitality room became bigger and bigger.  My need to top the design from the previous year has become an addiction.  I’m not sure if this is really a good thing or not.  Last year, (unfortunately, pictures were lost on my old phone) the theme was Mardi Gras.  The following pictures are definitely not a recreation of last year’s hospitality room, although I have incorporated some of the things I used last year.

After inheriting some of my maw-maw’s beautiful creations, I had to give my Mardi Gras table a touch of vintage decor.  It makes me feel as if my maw-maw is enjoying the Mardi Gras festivities alongside me.  You have to understand—my maw-maw LOVED going to Mardi Gras parades.  She would chase after any float or convertible car that drove around the royalty because she had to have every color of doubloon for each parade crew.  She collected these like someone collects old stamps.  I wish I knew which child or grandchild ended up with her collection because I would just love to have a picture of them.  It was a big collection.  The day of my hometown parade, we literally caught that parade at four different locations along its route.  Immediately after the parade was over, maw-maw would walk the parade route collecting all of the unwanted beads.  Back then, the beads were clear, plastic, and short.  We screamed and screamed, “Throw me something’!” in hopes that a Mardi Gras would finally give us the long bead that has now taken place of the short, clear, plastic beads.  Times have definitely changed.  Now, parade goers almost need to wear protective gear because it is quite possible to lose a tooth from the size and heaviness of the beads being thrown out into a crowd of plastic-loving, sometimes territorial spectators.  As they say, “Mardi Gras definitely brings out the crazy in all of us.”  However, I will forever cherish Mardi Gras memories with maw-maw.  As you can see in the image of me below, ‘down da bayou’, we start our Mardi Gras traditions as youngsters.

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Of course, what person visiting Louisiana doesn’t love Mardi Gras?  I couldn’t call myself a southerner if I didn’t appreciate the Mardi Gras atmosphere that is so dominant this time of year.  It is not an uncommon occurrence to see several “party buses” cruising the streets of Houma, Thibodaux, Golden Meadow, LaRose, etc. throughout the day.  It doesn’t matter if the parade they are riding in doesn’t start till the evening.  These float riders are up at the crack of dawn mixing their drinks for the day, getting their crazy costumes ready for the evening, and then on out to cruising the streets in their rented party bus.  They ride from breakfast till nearly parade time dancing so much that any vehicle stopped near them at a stop light is practically freaking out because it literally looks like the bus will topple over on its side.  Of course, after the initial freaking out period passes and the light is green again, we non party bus spectators continue to drive on our merry way laughing at the goons “partying it up” in the party bus.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed part of the culture ‘down da bayou’.  What you see is no elaborate “party bus”.  It is a retired “old yeller” school bus!  I couldn’t call it home if I didn’t see the “Mardi Gras”, as my maw-maw and paw-paw used to say.

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Wow!  Where was I?  Oh yeah, this year’s hospitality room decor.  To answer any questions after viewing that image—yes, that is me performing for one of our spring shows.  I suppose that was my face in response to what Frank was singing during the song, “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”.  I am not ashamed of the weird faces I make, and I display them proudly.  Perhaps I can give someone a good, much needed chuckle. 😉

So, as I was saying earlier, I decorated with a Mardi Gras theme last year, so I clearly could not do the same theme this year also.  I love music and our clinicians love music, so why not go with a theme we can all relate to…..LOVE?  This year, our hospitality room was dominated by colors of pink and red.  I normally decorate on the second evening of rehearsal since the clinician is there working with the students.  Thankfully, my mom volunteered to help me set up because I would not have been able to do everything during the 2 1/2 hours of rehearsal time.  It had to be done that night in order to be prepared for breakfast the next morning. Everyone is served breakfast, lunch, snacks, and more snacks.  I think we all gain about 6 pounds perhaps because we are ‘stress eating’.  I believe anyone would escape to the hospitality room just to have a few moments in a quiet and kid-free zone.  So, it is a day of eating for all of us.  With limited time and funds, I believe I managed to put together a safe haven where everyone could feel loved.

In addition to a somewhat pleasant escape, our clinicians and accompanists are also given a survival kit to get them through the day.  It usually consists of: water, protein bar, candy, post its, pencils, sweet treats, and a special gift that ties into the theme of the hospitality room.  I try to present it in a way that it doesn’t feel like a “survival kit’.  So, here is an image of the finished product.

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I believe the cute beanie babies were the perfect touch to complete the package!  Nonetheless, the gifts were much appreciated, so the extra work was definitely worthwhile.

Unfortunately, or fortunately…we were required to postpone the concert due to severe weather.  The concerts actually took place last night, and it was a great success.  Even though the hospitality room wasn’t available to enjoy the entire day, it was enjoyable while it lasted.

While I am very excited to share my flea market finds with you, I have decided to wait till my next post.  Stay tuned for my precious findings.  Always remember to find beauty in everything every single day.  Happy Decorating!

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