Larry and Patti Brown Mardi Gras 2020 (article published February 2021).
The first day of spring is just over a month away. Easter is exactly 46 days from Fat Tuesday. And tomorrow, Tuesday, February 16, 2021 is Mardi Gras. According to Larry, ‘Happy Mardi Gras’ is as common as saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in New Orléans.
Friend and Paducah Tilghman High School alumni Larry Brown has celebrated Mardi Gras from his vacation home in New Orléans for the past five years. He and wife Patti bought their condo and live just blocks from Bourbon Street. The two fell in love with the city many years ago and decided New Orleans was where they wanted to spend the winter months.
Larry said there are a few myths about Mardi Gras and it’s time to set the record straight on a couple of them. One is ‘You don’t have to lift up your shirt to have beads thrown at you.’ Tourists do the majority of the bead throwing to the shirtless crowd. “Mardi Gras is mostly a family affair and most of the local krewes really like to throw things to the kids,” said Larry.
The second misconception is that all parades happen at the French Quarter. There are small walking parades in the Quarter but no big floats. Most couldn’t fit. The beads that ‘rain down on you’ come from the big floats that parade around the city.
“Mardi Gras is bigger than one can imagine,” said Larry. “Things begin on January 6 (Epiphany or King’s Day) which is the 12th day after Christmas and escalate to Mardi Gras day, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.”
There are at least 50 krewes in southwest Louisiana that host Mardi Gras balls, ride on floats, or take part in social events throughout the year. A krewe is a group or organization that band together to host Mardi Gras events. Larry said, “They have names like Muses, Bacchus, Iris, Zulu, Choctaw and Rex. Throughout the carnival season, most of the krewes have balls and crown their royalty. Some have a ball after their parade.”
Some of the biggest parades are ‘Uptown’ which means they start in the Garden District and progress over a two-and-a-half to four mile stretch toward the French Quarter. Larry said some of the krewes have three to four thousand riders and floats. The themes are different every year. He’s seen Dr. Seuss, Racetrack, 80’s, and political satire. And the krewes will throw so many different trinkets from beads, frisbees, cups, toys, and t-shirts. There are homemade items too like sunglasses, purses, and high heels. The homemade items are considered collector's items. Larry said, “We have a Nyx purse and a Zulu coconut.”
Beginning eleven days before Mardi Gras, there will be two to five Uptown parades a day with dancing, marching bands, and other marching groups. “Our favorites are the 610 Stompers and the Muff-a-Lottas,” said Larry.
“We’re one block off the Uptown parade route in the Central Business District CBD. Lots of people line the streets and they might be 20 or more feet deep,” said Larry. “The amount of beads thrown is ‘mind-boggling’.
New Orleans canceled this year’s Mardi Gras. Larry said people aren’t happy about it but they understand. The reason for the cancellation is to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Louisiana, like many states, was hit hard by the pandemic mere months ago. COVID-19 numbers are starting to go down which provides hope for the residents of Louisiana.
Since there’s no parade, many residents are decorating their homes like a float, lots of lights and colorful decorations. Maps were published for visitors to go around the city to see these reverse parade home floats. Larry said, “Occasionally, locals will throw beads off their balconies.”
Bourbon, Frenchman, and Decatur Streets closed through February 16 from 7 pm to 3 am. Bourbon Street is closed through Ash Wednesday.
Some of the favorite foods during Mardi Gras include King Cake, jambalaya, gumbo, pralines, and the Hurricane, the festival's drink of choice. All of these foods are classic favorites. Larry said, “King Cake bakeries have people lined out the doors.” His favorite comes from Antoine's on the west bank in Gretna.
For those that want to know, “The king cake is a mixture of French pastry and coffee cake. It’s oval shaped with icing and sugar covering the top," said Larry. "The original colors are gold (representing power), purple (representing justice) and green (representing faith). The shape of the cake represents unity of faiths. All cakes have a hidden baby inside symbolizing luck and prosperity. The person finding the baby becomes king or queen for the evening.”
One might wonder why the Browns chose New Orléans as their vacation home as opposed to the sunny beaches of Florida. He said that his stepdaughter received a scholarship to Tulane University and stayed after graduation. She left the city when hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. His son received a band scholarship to play trumpet at LSU three years after Hurricane Katrina. Larry and Patti visited New Orléans often before and after Katrina to see their children and fell in love with the museums, walking the French Quarter, and attending games for both the NFL and NBA ball clubs.
With all the snow happening throughout the country, seeing beautiful pictures of the colorful and whimsical Mardi Gras parade is a welcomed sight. Though the Browns may not get to see a full blown Mardi Gras event, I'm sure they'll make the best of their circumstance.
The Appalachians and a code 'improvise, adapt, overcome' underscores the life of a former commissioner's wife
Cindy, Richard and Mckynleigh
Written by Cindy Abraham
“I was born in the Parris Island Naval Hospital in 1957. The Code of this location was to "Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.” This code has underlined my whole life.” Cindy Abraham
Over the past two centuries, my paternal and maternal families were centered in Eastern Kentucky (with the exception of the years my brothers and I spent in a proverbial boot camp due to my dad’s Marine background). My father was a die hard member of the GOP in Montgomery County and my mother was a ‘Yellow dog Democrat’. At this point you may notice that ‘improvise, adapt and overcome’ were healthy directions for children of this beginning.
My playmates were mostly boys (brothers and male cousins) and we “green broke” our horses, fished, learned how to raise hogs and cattle, went hunting and just enjoyed running around wild on family farms.
I attended Mt. Sterling High School and life was sprinkled with cotillions, fancy dresses, rival football games, and basic 70’s teenage mischief. One of the highlights of the year was Mt. Sterling Court Days where court was held once a month and people came for miles to buy, sell, and trade.
It was the mid-70's and the Vietnam War was drawing to a close. Mt. Sterling embraced our troops who were loyal to the directives of the United States and our Commander in Chief. After graduating in 1975, I continued my education at Transylvania University.
While at Transy I majored in political science. After a couple of years, I decided to take a hiatus and move to Hilton Head, South Carolina. I always had an interest in art and decided to pursue it. While there, I worked in an art gallery and studied with local artists. In 1981, I went back to school.
One of my brothers was at the University of Kentucky, so I decided to move to Lexington where I would stay in his apartment for awhile. Within the first month, I met the man I knew was going to be my husband. He was my brother’s best friend, Richard Abraham.
Richard and I hit it off pretty quick. We had many of the same interests and experiences. Both of us had traveled to Europe while in high school. Both families had first hand experiences with the Vietnam War. Richard’s cousins had served and lived to tell about it. I know today’s youth may not understand the political implications of the Vietnam War. It ‘colored’ the notions of those that came back from the war and those affiliated with its presence.
I wasn’t raised to be judgmental. Both sides of my family have been educators for the past 100 years. My great grandfather rode a mule into Appalachia regularly to teach. We were taught to examine people and situations and make decisions based upon character.
However, when I announced to my mother that I was marrying Richard (remember as a daughter of a marine, you NEVER bring home an intended until you’ve decided to stand your ground, no matter what) she said, “I hope he’s Jewish."
My family’s only concern was for ‘the union’ itself and the perceived difficulties I might encounter, rather than saying Richard was not for me, because of the color of his skin.
After much flurry of conversations and concerns, my Grandmother Caudill and my Grandmother Nolan made ‘the ruling.’ Grandmother Caudill said, “If they marry, then he is family. No more shall be said about it.” Grandmother Nolan said, “He is a Christian. Done is done”. Contrary to many notions, Richard’s family had more difficulties with him marrying me. But here we are, 38 years later and smiling.
We got married in 1983 while in college. Shortly after the nuptials, Richard attended a professional football camp in Texas. When he returned from the ‘try-out,’ he said, “Cindy, I know you think I’m big, but girl, those guys are giants!” On that note, Richard decided to continue advancing his strengths in personal training, music and working with special needs kids.
While Richard finished up college, I worked for a CPA firm in Lexington. In 1984, we were blessed with our first daughter Scytha T. Abraham. After moving to Paducah, our second daughter was born Mckynleigh.
So here we are, in Richard’s hometown. He worked in the medical field while I worked in retail. I kept up with my art and went from painting on canvas to making dolls and toys. I actually sell items under “Kentucky Lace: Island Creek Critters.”
When it was time for my girls to start school, there were some concerns. Back in eastern Kentucky, I had come from a long line of educators so I was familiar with the process. My oldest was in public school for four years before I decided that homeschooling would be the best option. There were two reasons why I homeschooled. First, I was a registered volunteer with McNabb Elementary within the Paducah City Schools for a number of years and observed the tying of hands of our educators. Second, the Kentucky Education Reform Act was initiated.
One of the girls' outlets for social interaction with their peer groups was the Market House Theater. The Cochran's style of theater classes had a tremendous influence on both of the girls. I attribute much of their confidence and self-assurance to this organization.
Scytha is married and lives in Paducah. She’s a Registered Nurse and has blessed us with five grandchildren. Mckynleigh is engaged and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Her pursuit has been the stage since she was four years old. When asked at a young age what she wanted to be when she grew up, she stated, "I am going to be a star." She was performing on Broadway Tours before COVID shut it down. She has her Life Coaching Certification and is building a business that’s gaining traction while waiting for Broadway to reopen.
In 1996, Richard co-founded VIP (Vision Inner-City Paducah) with the late Carol Hoover. We continued our involvement in street ministry and had a talk radio show on WGCF called ‘The Safe Haven Show.’ We ministered to inmates and youth fleeing abusive situations. We discovered that south of Owensboro, Kentucky, there was no safe organizational home for these youth.
Since the local youth distress issue wasn't being addressed by our city commissioners, Richard was unhappy with their lack of interest or action. He said there weren't enough questions being asked by it members. “The people aren’t being represented,” he said. In 2000, Richard decided to run for office and won a seat on the Paducah City Commission.
Richard has always stated that “hard questions should not be a problem and citizens need to see transparency in those they’ve elected”. I truly believe that Richard accomplished everything that God put him to address during his 14 years of service on the Paducah Board of Commissioners. As Richard said, “if God wants me as mayor right now, no man can stop it. And if He doesn't want me there, I do not want to be there.”
As for me, along with the joy I've had as Mrs. Richard Abraham, I, like many others, have experienced abuse, pain, loss, and hardship over the last 63 years. Again, the “...adapt and overcome’ life motto, has served me well. I am a believer in our Creator and in His son Yeshua ha Mashiach. This has strengthened me beyond words.
I’ve been married to an All American, public servant, teacher of the Word, excellent father, one that has dined with a U.S. President and sang for another, a certified personal trainer/life coach, sports and radio announcer, and advocate for troubled youth and those with special needs. If I accomplish nothing else in my life, being his wife has been beyond fulfilling and always exciting. Who knows...he may be drawn to another genre of public servitude in the future. Stay tuned for the next journey.
Emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccine lingers as providers answer community concerns via Facebook
(Originally posted in December 2020). Dr. J. Kyle Turnbo, a triple board certified physician is with wife Nicole, a nurse and student at Vanderbilt University in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program. On Sunday, December 6, the pair sat down in the comfort of their home to talk about the COVID-19 vaccine during a 'live' chat on Facebook.
Around the time the UK Wildcats were slammed by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Dr. J. Kyle Turnbo and his wife Nicole sat down in the comfort of their home for a ‘live’ Facebook chat with friends, family, colleagues, and the community. As the COVID-19 vaccine awaits emergency authorization from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the Turnbo’s offered their time and expertise based on drug manufacturers’ press releases and other findings.
Dr. Turnbo and Nicole Turnbo RN have been very accessible to the media by answering the community's questions and giving information via social media. On Saturday, December 5, Nicole sent out a Facebook post asking friends and family if they would be interested in a ‘live’ Facebook chat to answer questions about the Covid vaccines. And, if there’s interest, what are some of those questions. Everybody jumped online with a definitive ‘yes’ for the opportunity to learn more. Sunday morning, Nicole posted to tune in at 5 pm.
On Tuesday, December 8, information on the phase 3 trials will be released. The FDA vaccine advisory panel will meet on December 10 to discuss the emergency authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. If approved, distribution of the vaccine will begin immediately. On December 17, clinical data will be available for review of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine pending emergency use by the panel as well.
The first question discussed was the approval process for the vaccine. Some are concerned that the drug companies may have rushed to market and the vaccine may not be ready to go. Dr. Turnbo called it “unprecedented warp speed”.
Dr. T shared an example of 'warp speed' use regarding the polio vaccine. In 1955, Jonas Salk revolutionized the meaning of warp speed. A test group of 1.8 million children were in the trial phase. Children in the US, Canada, and Finland were given the vaccine. One year later, the vaccine was deemed safe and effective and became part of the childhood diseases vaccination protocols.
The C-19 vaccine has been in the Phase 3 stage for two months. Typically, it’s a six month phase, however, the need for the vaccine is immediate. During this Phase 3 trial, over 100,000 people have been vaccinated. For traditional vaccines, the majority of side effects happen within the first six weeks. Therefore, the two month trial falls within this timeline.
Another reason for the “unprecedented warp speed” is the new technology used to create the vaccine. The technology that has been studied for over a decade is messenger RNA vaccines or mRNA vaccines. The mRNA vaccine takes advantage of proteins to trigger an immune response of immunity to CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The benefits of the new technology includes the use of a non-infectious element, shorter manufacturing times, and the potential to target multiple diseases. “It’s revolutionary,” said Nicole.
According to Dr. Turnbo the safety data is “very impressive”. He’ll be able to take a look more closely when the trial information is released on December 8. In addition to side effect data, he said that the disease prevention looked ‘very good’ coming in at 95% effective. In addition, there were nearly 100% reductions in fatalities associated with the COVID-19 or serious symptoms. These findings are ‘significant.’
Another question was about how the vaccine is administered. Most have heard that there are two shots that need to be administered for the Pfizer and Moderna C-19 vaccine. Dr. Turnbo said the window of time for the second shot is 28-30 days. He also said that if you get your first shot from one of the drug companies, you need to stick with that brand for the second shot.
More Questions Answered
How long are you immunized? There’s no clear cut answer to this question since this is a new virus. Dr. Turnbo said, “Nobody knows but with 95% effectiveness one would assume six months to a year.”
Could someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine? Some said they got the flu after getting the flu vaccine. Dr. Turnbo said, “Nobody gets the flu from the flu vaccine. People get an immune response.” Possible side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine could be inflammation of the muscle at the injection site, flu-like symptoms, headache, low-grade fever. He said, “It sounds like coronavirus symptoms.” If you have some of these mild symptoms you know the vaccine is working. “Congratulations, you get immunity.” said Dr. Turnbo. Symptoms would only last a day or so.
What about ‘herd immunity’? Dr. T said, “No disease or virus has been completely eradicated naturally.”
Is there an advantage of getting the vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19? The chances of having severe symptoms are lessened by getting vaccinated. We don’t know how long someone has the antibodies in their system to fight off the virus again.
Who will be the first to get vaccinated? More likely than not frontline healthcare workers that are in the Covid units will receive the first vaccine, as well as long-term care facilities. The Covid floors would include healthcare workers and those cleaning the patient rooms. For long-term care facilities, it would make sense for those taking care of residents to get the vaccine. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the residents.
Should the vaccine be mandatory? At this point, Dr. Turnbo doesn’t believe the vaccine should be mandatory. There’s still more to learn about the vaccine and time will make that determination.
Dr. T said, “If everything is approved by the advisory panel, I’ll be much more comfortable getting vaccinated myself and recommending it to my patients.” It’s risk and benefits.