LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER!!
WE ARE FULL-IN MARDI GRAS SEASON!
Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout the state of Louisiana...north, south, east and west. But if the truth be told, it’s celebrated in other fun-seeking towns in the US too. In fact, Mobile, Alabama claims to own the honor of having the carnival celebration as we associate with it, you know, with parades, masked balls, kings and queens.
Just like Louisiana, the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Mississippi were influenced by early French explorers. Towns, streets and parks are often named after them. While Mobile claims to have had the very first celebration, many history books note that brothers Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville who’d been sent to America to locate the mouth of the Mississippi River and guard the French territory against the British and the Spanish, actually first observed Mardi Gras in what we know as Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. In 1699, the day before Mardi Gras, Pierre landed there and named the spot Point du Mardi Gras. I’m sure there were no parades then, since the explorer would have been with a small group (or Krewe!).
Since, I’m a Louisiana gal, I’ll focus this blog to share with you the dates and names of the parades in my home state...but it doesn’t take much of a search to find them in Destin, Gulfport and other locales. I invite you to visit The History of Mardi Gras to learn more about Mardi Gras, its traditions and history from Arthur Hardy. He’s our local expert on the subject. He also has an extensive parade schedule on this site.
I encourage you to check out the awesome parades outside of New Orleans too. I was inspired by them for some fun scenes in my book, Elli, a Second Chance Novel.
Check out the GIVEAWAY at the end of the blog!
• Mardi Gras literally means Fat Tuesday in English.
• Traditional Mardi Gras colors date back to 1892 - Purple is for justice. Green is for faith. Gold is for power.
• The Mardi Gras Season begins 12 days after Christmas, on what is known as King’s Day or the Epiphany in Christian tradition. This is the day the three Magi or wise men brought the infant Jesus (the referenced “king”) gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.
• Mardi Gras is always on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
• The day before Mardi Gras is known as Shrove Monday or Lundi Gras.
Throw me something, Mister!
So, you’re probably saying about now – I want to attend a parade? But, which one (s) should I go too? There are so many!! Here are some of my faves!
Part of the tradition is this Bouef Gras float which always rolls in Rex with masked riders dressed as cooks! It’s a symbol of the feasting of “Fat Tuesday” before Lent begins. There are other permanent floats everyone looks forward to every year.
The Truck Krewes
Rex (and many other parades in the state) is followed by what I actually used to love better as a child (and maybe still do today)- The Truck Krewes. These Big Rig trucks are decorated with love and fun by family and friends who get together to ride on these “floats” on Mardi Gras Day. It’s hard to miss them since hundreds of trucks troll continuously for most of Mardi Gras Day!
The Krewe of Zulu
It also rolls on Mardi Gras day and brings back such wonderful memories for me. As a child, I hoped to first, see this parade (it used to not announce its route and just never knew if you’d be lucky enough to see it!) and secondly, hope to get one of the prized decorated coconuts they handed from their floats. http://www.kreweofzulu.com/history
Bacchus, Endymion & Orpheus
The Krewes of Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus – These three “Celebrity” night parades roll the Saturday before (Endymion), the Sunday before (Bacchus), the day before (Orpheus) Mardi Gras. They all have gorgeous Superfloats (Endymion has a float that carries 250 riders!), feature celebrity riders ( see list below) and host amazing concerts (in 2018-Rod Stewart was featured for the Endymion concert in the Superdome and Orpheus always features Harry Connick Jr and other stars – Harry founded this music-themed Krewe). I highly recommend you click on this link to see these amazingly beautiful floats. As a side note, like all of the parades, these are free and easy to view, but the concerts/balls are for members only. Except for Orpheus, which allows visitors to buy tickets for the Orpheuscapade, a musical extravaganza after the parade.
Past Endymion Celebrity Grand Marshalls include Maroon 5, Carrie Underwood, Steven Tyler, Pitbull, Kiss, Kelly Ripa, Flo-Rida and others.
Former King Bacchus include Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, William Shatner, Will Ferrell, Drew Brees, JK Simmons and more
Former Orpheus Monarchs have included Fats Domino, Stevie Wonder, Quentin Tarantino, Sandra Bullock, Whoopi Goldberg, Toby Keith, Anne Rice and More.
The Mystic Krewe of Barkus
This parade has literally gone the dogs...and their manly (and womanly) best friends. The Barkus parade route is in the French Quarter. The costumes are really wonderful to see. Some of the parade themes have included – Jurassic Bark and Joan of Bark.
The Krewe of Muses
I love this all female parade on THERsday! Of course I do with muses being the patrons of the arts and sciences (inspiring writers as well as artists, poets, philosophers, and musicians ). And the shoes! Wildly decorated shoes are a focus for the krewe.
Check out their website- http://kreweofmuses.org/ where the krewe best describes themselves this way: We are known for our year-long commitment to philanthropic works, infamously satirical floats and of course, fabulously glittered shoe-themed throws...
Phunny Phorty Phellows
Try saying that FIVE times!! If you do, post a video on Facebook or Instagram and tag me and use #tinadesalvo so I can like your post!!
Okay, doesn’t this Krewe’s name just make you love them already? So, you’ll have to come to New Orleans on Twelfth Night to catch this crazy ensemble. The Phellows basically kick-off the season on their historic ride on a streetcar. It’s a historic organization that took to the streets from 1878 to 1898. A small group of friends revived it in 1981 to begin the tradition of riding the streetcar line in a streetcar after they have a wild “Carnival Countdown”.
Find out more here: http://www.phunnyphortyphellows.com/
Want to get out of New Orleans and experience Hometown Mardi Gras?
Check out these parades:
Krewe of Houmas and Krewe of Kajuns, Krewe of Ghana – This wonderful family-friendly Mardi Gras day parades are just west of New Orleans in the friendly towns of Thibodaux and Houma, La. These are quality parades, filled with tradition, beautiful floats and good marching bands. I was inspired by these parades and the ones listed below for fun scenes in my book – Elli, a Second Chance Novel https://kreweofhoumas.wildapricot.org/about-us
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about Mardi Gras and seeing these photos. Until next time,
Don’t eat too much king cake!
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⚜️ Bonne Chance!