Mardi Gras

In 2005, I was crowned King of the Krewe of Mid City, the 5th oldest Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans! It was an honor beyond belief.

As a kid growing up in the Crescent City, Mardi Gras was as important as Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July and Summer Vacation all rolled into one. You would run from float to float to catch the beads and trinkets thrown from the members of the Carnival Club, (known as the Krewe). But the most prized possession was an aluminum coin called the Doubloon. Everyone had doubloon collections – binders with special pages and holders for these precious bits of metal. And some of the most prized were the King doubloons, which had the Monarch’s image stamped on a royal coin. Now, I had my own and I was on cloud nine. It was like having your own Baseball card.

My daughters, Hannah and Bryce would be my Royal Pages, assisting me at the coronation ball and on the float. My brother Joe’s three kids, Melissa, Johnny and Brent were also along for the ride.

Fittings for the Royal garments had to be made for all of us as well as a couple of trips to a make-up artist to fabricate a beard and wig for me. Tradition dictates that the king must be bearded and not recognizable.

The coronation ball is where the royal court is introduced.

The day before the parade, the Krewe holds a Cigar Stroll, where we walk through the French Quarter with a brass band leading the way and hand out special beads. There are no wives or girlfriends allowed.

Matthew Nastuk and David Silverman, both directors from The Simpsons, joined me on the stroll. Others from the show came to New Orleans for the festivities as well.

My costume was also used as the model for Homer’s costume when he was a Mardi Gras King on an episode of The Simpsons.

In 2002 my family and I were included in the book Masking and Madness. Our costumes were painted by my cousin, Glen Marsiglia.

We also made it to the front page of the newspaper.


FRENCH QUARTER: Rick and Carla Polizzi of Los Angeles attract attention from revelers on Royal Street by portraying Blue Boy and Mona Lisa. Their daughters, Hannah, 8, above, and Bryce, 4, not pictured, played the roles of the artists.

It is a day to face the music, put on a pretty or a zany face and don an elaborate, whimsical or immodest costume: Mardi Gras is a day to get crazy and to be seen getting crazy. And hundreds of thousands did just that, whether they were on a float or walking down a packed street.