Dear carnival newbie, If you are blessed to have a carnival veteran take you on your first carnival experience, they deserve ALL THE FLOWERS.  I have taken a few people out on their first experience, and it came with some challenges and lessons learned for the baby masquerader and me.  

Veteran masqueraders do this out of love of Carnival and the desire to see others enjoy it.  It fills my heart to watch a newbie’s eyes widen and witness the transformation that occurs with the rhythms coming from the truck and the infectious joy in the atmosphere.  It is heartwarming when they say, “I now understand why you love this so much.”

But it’s also very tiring.  And I have been in situations where I was left to feel seriously unappreciated.  So I will share what I go through as a veteran in hopes that you understand how hefty the task can be.

We are your teacher and mentor.

carnival newbie mentor pic
Side note, I miss this hair.

A great mentor will teach you what Carnival is about and why we play mas.  I have spent countless hours sending links for carnival newbies to read. I have fielded questions and demystified many misunderstandings. I have often helped newbies pick their costumes, make recommendations on what to pack, wear, and recommend products I feel would work for them. I have even given recommendations on footwear and also functioned as a personal fashion consultant, while still having to organize myself.  Although it is definitely easier to me as a veteran, it is also time-consuming.

We are your travel agent and concierge.

The experienced carnival-goer typically coordinates lodging and a car rental.  They give the heads up on which fete tickets to buy, and recommend which band to register with. They usually find the makeup artist for you. The experienced masquerader is likely the one who gets in town first, collecting a handful of carnival costumes to return to the hotel.  They go through every package on your behalf, making sure nothing is missing, you got everything you paid for, and raise hell on your behalf when you don’t.  Getting one costume in a bag with feathers is a task in itself.  Pay special props to the veteran willing to scoop up several in one trip.

Sometimes we are your seamstress.

carnival newbie tips
Carnival vets have learned to be innovative with costume repairs and hacks. Click this photo to learn about how I make my pasties.

Like a good carnival newbie, you packed a masquerader kit.  While a glue gun is self-explanatory, you haven’t the slightest idea how to work a needle and thread. We got you. I remember one night staying up to fix a costume while my crew slept, even rearranging bad feather work.  I did this because it was her first time, and I wanted her to feel her best and have the best possible experience.

Many new masqueraders won’t understand how to bend the wire to shape a headpiece, backpack, or wire bra.  Veterans led the way, showing you how to do all this and put on your costume.

Carnival vets put you first.

If you are a carnival newbie, getting ready for the day can be stressful.  Sometimes we help you get dressed first, or dress early so that we can help.  We will remind you to put some sunscreen on, drink water, and eat breakfast when you are nervous.  We will provide you with time hacks, know when the roads are closing, and have mapped out the best route to get to the parade. Many times we function as your photographer. 

While we are on the road, we will watch over you while having our fun and check in to ensure that all is going well for you. We make sure you eat, drink, and sometimes function as a security guard when you don’t know how to handle a stormer or politely curve a w(h)ine.

Supporting your carnival mentor.

Taking a carnival newbie under your wings can be daunting, but here are some things that you can do to reciprocate support:

  1. Follow their instructions, and trust there is a reason behind everything. 
  2. Be patient.  Sometimes our nerves are running high the morning of right along with you. 
  3. Pay attention. When it’s time to get on the road, know that what is taught should not have to be taught again.  Expect to do what is shown for yourself later. For example, if your leg piece falls, you can fix it yourself. 
  4. Remember that while your mentor is there for you, many things cannot be controlled.  In other words, costume distribution, road experience, food, and drinks are up to the band.  We would never intentionally lead you into a lackluster experience. Save your frustrations for the band, and don’t take it out on your mentor.

In conclusion, guiding the carnival newbie into their first experience is a labor of love.  Have you thanked your carnival mentor lately? Be sure to send them your love and appreciation. I would even recommend treating them to a few drinks or a meal.  It’s a lot of work!

To learn about my must-have items as a masquerader, click here.

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