In honor of the Epiphany (aka the start of Carnival season for the non New Orleanians out there), NOLA.com has released a hilarious set of illustrations on the various people you will see along the Mardi Gras parade route. My personal favorite is “The Jolly Cop.”
At the end of the series, the editors ask readers who they think is missing, the eighth man of Mardi Gras. To which I say “The Fatigued First Responder” would be an appropriate addition.
First responders in the Crescent City work the entire Carnival season, few get more than a day off in a row, and most will spend between 12 and 16 hours on the clock every single shift.
They will respond to thousands of calls, and when they arrive they will do their jobs surrounded by one of the most chaotic scenes in modern history.
They will fight fires, make arrests, and provide healthcare while marching bands and dance krewes perform in the background. In return, revelers will be more likely to elbow them in an effort to catch a throw than they are to provide them safe passage to their destination.
They will go two weeks without kissing their children goodnight. They will leave the house before their partner has had their morning coffee and come to bed long after their other half is already asleep.
They will catch only glimpses of the glitz and glamour of the parades, and it will either come between calls or as they work a detail shift at one of the dozens of balls and parties various krewes will host.
They will receive a limited thanks from their fellow citizens. In reality we’re more likely to notice them when their presence is an annoyance or obstruction than we are to notice the service they provide.
They are the eighth man of Mardi Gras, and we should take a minute to remember that Carnival couldn’t exist without them.