ORANGE PARK – Despite the trepidation, precautions and weariness that’s been a part of the COVID-19 pandemic, they still found a way to laissez les bons temps rouler Tuesday at Mackey’s …
ORANGE PARK – Despite the trepidation, precautions and weariness that’s been a part of the COVID-19 pandemic, they still found a way to laissez les bons temps rouler Tuesday at Mackey’s Munchies.
Much like the carnival held on Fat Tuesday every year in Louisiana, the restaurant that specializes in New Orleans Cajun and Creole cuisine held a scaled-down Mardi Gras celebration that still spilled out onto the sidewalk and alley at the Ridgecrest Plaza. But behind the colorful face coverings and shiny beads, everyone was finding their own ways to let the good times roll.
The interior of the restaurant was reconfigured into sections to resemble parade floats, all decorated in festive colors of the annual bacchanalia.
The floats came with their own storylines, including a display dedicated to activist Ruby Bridges, the first Black child to desegregate to the all-white William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans in 1960.
“She got through it by thinking every day was Mardi Gras,” owner Brandye Mackey said.
Despite protocols, including the mandatory use of face coverings, more than 200 came to the party in Orange Park.
“We can still have a good time,” Mackey said. “If we can give somebody a good experience, then it’s a good thing.
“We were really popping,” Mackey said. “We had 22 more people here this year than last year [before the COVID-19 shutdown] when it rained. That may not seem like a lot, but given what we’re going through, we’re happy. It was a long and beautiful day. My heart is overwhelmed with joy.”
Mackey’s sold 60 tickets be part of the Taste of Gumbo promotion. The uptick in business also meant the Mackey’s ran out of beignet dough.
Carnival dates back to 1852 when Pope Gregory XIII made it an official holiday. It was a way to celebrate during Lent. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday,” and it’s always recognized the day before Ash Wednesday.
This year’s Carnival was canceled in New Orleans. If fact, police and barricades out-numbered tourists and partiers on Bourbon Street.
While the party continued at Mackey’s, it was smaller than before 2020.
At Mackey’s, where they don’t seem to need a reason to happy, visitors enjoyed the tastes of The Big Easy. Revelers not only enjoyed A Taste of Gumbo and beignets, they ate jambalaya, PoBoys and, of course, King Cakes, they partied to live music and shopped in a makeshift vendor alley called Canal Street.
“We just wanted to show the community some love,” Mackey said. “We wanted to give out of our hearts. Hopefully people will pay it forward.”
By the way, laissez les bons temps rouler (pronounced lay-say le bon tom roo-lay) is Cajun French for “Let the good times roll.”
And that’s exactly what they did at Mackey’s Munchies.