Yesterday's Times-Picayune had a great article about the wide disparity between Mardi Gras as practiced by locals and Mardi Gras as perceived and experienced by outsiders, including the media. This is a really great examination of something that has long bothered most New Orleanians including me.
Given Mardi Gras' Sodom and Gomorrah image in some corners, the notion of Mardi Gras as a family event causes some outside the city to chuckle in disbelief. But it best describes the season for most locals.
That may be because Carnival also has featured a kind of segregation between locals and tourists, said Elzy Lindsey, a veteran of 40 Fat Tuesdays, now living in North Carolina and aching at the prospect of missing Mardi Gras for the first time in his life.
"New Orleans does a really good job of keeping tourists away from its real culture. We give them a Disneyland, French Quarter-Garden District version of Mardi Gras," he said.