As the third float of the Krewe of Endymion passed by the middle-aged woman standing in the middle of the crowd raised her hands high and yelled along with the others, "Here, here!" The float continued to roll down Canal Street and she watched as it took a right on St. Charles rolling on its way to Lee Circle. Just when she turned back to look at the next float and repeat the pleading a clump of beautiful colored beads, thrown by a masked rider, struck her in the face, breaking her glasses. Her eyebrow was lacerated and blood began to trickle down her face.
This is more or less what a woman posted in an online forum. She ended up, she reports, paying for a new set of glasses that cost $200, which she said she didn't have at the time to spend.
In one week we will again celebrate Mardi Gras, a day of feasting and revelry, which always occurs the day before the beginning of the 40-days religious observance of Lent during which those of certain faiths, by tradition, will exercise spiritual reflection, contrition, and penance -- an exercise meant to bring the observers -- hopefully -- closer to God. But not before, for some, some hell is raised and fun is had.
Like the lady above, there are many accidents and injuries that occur during the Mardi Gras season the most common of which is probably being struck in the head with objects thrown from a passing float. If you've been to more than one Mardi Gras parade you've probably seen this too.
A quick scan on the Internet reveals a variety of injuries incurred while watching or participating in a parade. Revelers, some more sober than others, fall off floats, sustaining sprains and concussions if not getting crushed under the float on which they were riding. Some have been known to get crushed between a truck pulling the float and the float being pulled. In Carencro, Louisiana, a parade was over and a float had left the parade route when a 23-year old man fell in front of it and it crushed him.
Parade-goers have been known to get crushed or maimed while attempting to quickly grab a string of beads from under a rolling float.
A woman reported her friend broke two bones in her hand in what she described as a "freak bead-grabbing incident" at the Krewe of Thoth parade, spending the next day in surgery -- apparently the efforts of a belligerent bead-thrower.
About the belligerent bead-thrower. I've never seen any on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but apparently they exist in Houma, Louisiana, where the police are now targeting those who throw beads too hard. The Krewe of Endymion in New Orleans apparently has a reputation for throwing beads too hard, as noted above.
Probably of the most prized possession of any Mardi Gras parade catch is a coconut from a New Orleans Zulu Parade. I read the account of one man who was upset after being struck in the head with a thrown coconut -- not so much being upset over being struck but upset over the coconut having split in two when it struck him on his own coconut -- disappointed that the prized catch was not intact. Goes to show, some people do have their priorities.
At another Zulu parade an incident was reported by a guy who was looking the other way when a large African-mask ceramic medallion was thrown and struck him in the head. He didn't think anything of it until those around began looking at him in horror as blood began streaming down his face.
Then you have all of the DUI and DWI characters who injure themselves and others.
For the medical coders who are so inclined, here are the actual ICD-10 medical codes and the injuries for filing an insurance claim for tending to those who are injured during a Mardi Gras event:
V09.3XXA, Pedestrian injured in unspecified traffic accident, initial encounter
W22.02XA, Walked into lamppost, initial encounter
W18.41, Slipping, tripping and stumbling without falling due to stepping on object
W01.0XXA, Fall on same level from slipping, tripping and stumbling without subsequent striking against object, initial encounter
S05.11XA, Contusion of eyeball and orbital tissues, right eye, initial encounter
S05.00, Injury of conjunctiva and corneal abrasion without foreign body, unspecified eye
S93.401A, Sprain of unspecified ligament of right ankle, initial encounter
S20.222A, Contusion of left back wall of thorax, initial encounter
W52.XXXA, Crushed, pushed or stepped on by crowd or human stampede, initial encounter (circumstance causing an injury)
T51.OX1A, Toxic effect of ethanol, accidental (unintentional), initial encounter (alcohol poisoning)
R11.2, Nausea with vomiting, unspecified
F10.129, Alcohol abuse with intoxication, unspecified
K30, Functional dyspepsia (indigestion)
Hey, gotta be careful. It can be a dangerous world out there during Mardi Gras season. But it doesn't have to be. Simply use common sense and always be alert and aware of your surroundings, especially the kids, when viewing a parade. If you're too skittish to attend a Mardi Gras parade, don't fear, you can always wear a football helmet if it makes you feel better. And if you're going to ride a float, don't drink and ride!
Otherwise, to really be safe and secure you might as well stay at home, (which ain't no fun) drink some hot chocolate and eat three or four pieces of King Cake. That should keep you safe during the season. But then again, watch out for that Baby -- it could break off a tooth!
Everything seems to come with a risk -- even watching a parade or eating a cake.