The Coldest Mardi Gras Ever

Just when I thought the holidays were over, I remembered Mardi Gras. I checked online to see what date it falls on this year and discovered the celebration will be on Tuesday, March 8th. That got me to thinking of my husband David, and the coldest Mardi Gras ever, which I refer to as sometime in the mid 1980’s.

After a lunch of Popeye’s spicy fried chicken, we headed out to catch the parade. The parade route was in walking distance of our home in Metairie, and it didn’t take long to realize how brutally cold it was. Long johns were not a part of my wardrobe until I traveled west, so undoubtedly I was unprepared for the cold.

Walking back and forth – and back and forth along the parade route – was, and still is, my husband’s trade mark. He cannot stand waiting in one place for a parade. I recall walking so far off the beaten path one time, that our family hardly saw the parade at all. But I digress, I was talking about the weather.

The walking did not warm us up, we were miserably cold, and David wanted ear muffs. K & B Drug Store was on the parade route and we figured that we would buy them there – Katz and Besthoff had everything.


I use an old K & B pill bottle to store needles.


At the time, Katz and Besthoff, which was founded in 1905, was a New Orleans icon and everyone was familiar with it. The big purple sign was on every corner, and K & B remained an integral part of the area’s economy until it was purchased by Rite Aid in 1997. Many of us were sad to see it go as we had such fond memories of shopping there, and having ice cream at their soda fountain. It just wasn’t the same after Rite Aid bought it.

K & B was unique and branded themselves with the color purple and a jingle that said, “Look at almost any corner and what do you see; a big purple sign that says friendly K and B”.

And purple it was! From the K & B logo, to store brand packaging and advertising, purple became their trademark. Purple cash registers, purple signs, purple employee uniforms…everything was purple! The shade became so well known that people called it KB purple.

Aside from being a pharmacy, the store offered a wide variety of merchandise.

They sold everything from cameras to their own brand of liquor and ice cream. K & B ice cream was loved by many New Orleanians including my daughter, Janice. As a teenager, she would buy her own half gallon of KB chocolate to keep in the freezer. Dark and rich, it was a chocolate lover’s delight. Like I said, K & B had everything.

Everything that is, except ear muffs.

My family and I survived the wind chill of that Mardi Gras in 1984, and as it turns out, that wasn’t the coldest Mardi Gras ever. It just felt that way.

  • The coldest Mardi Gras ever on record was during the Great Blizzard of 1899. On February 13, the Monday before Mardi Gras, the Port of New Orleans was frozen over. Ice floes were reported floating out of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. The following day was Fat Tuesday and the temperature was only 22 degrees. The King of Carnival was a tad chilly and the Rex parade was delayed due to snow that had to be cleared from the streets.

Imagine that!

Montana set a record low at that time too, with a -61 degrees Fahrenheit at Fort Logan.

Whew, that’s cold!

As they say, variety is the spice of life. Try not to look at the weather as good or bad, but as nature’s way of making day to day life a bit more interesting.


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