Place: New Orlean
It is New Orleans' premiere party season! It's time to enjoy life, party, and have a good time! It's irresistibly fun, vibrant, sarcastic, and sassy! If you understand how this city hums during the day and sings at night, you may be able to envision its celebration of Mardi Gras.
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Perhaps it's the anticipation of the merriment, the excitement of catching throws, the extravaganza of the parades, getting dressed up in costume, or going to a Ball -- but a frame of mind takes over the Big Easy and says "forget your problems and have fun!"
Mardi Gras officially starts at Twelfth Night, which occurs 12 days after Christmas on January 6th. There are several celebrations around the city, and it is a great day here in New Orleans. It means for us King Cake Lovers, that the bakeries around town will have King Cake for sale! Mardi Gras Day (which is also Fat Tuesday) is the last day of the Mardi Gras Carnival season. Mardi Gras day falls on a different day each year. It is always 46 days before Easter.
Almost all Carnival parades follow a standard parade format, normally with the captain appearing at the head of the procession, either on a special float, in a convertible or on horseback. Next come the officers, the king or queen, and in some parades, the maids and dukes, followed by the title float and the floats that carry riding members. An 18-float procession of a 200-member krewe may feature more than 75 units. When band members, dance groups, posses, clown units and motorcycle squadrons are all added up, it is not uncommon for the number of participants to total more than 3,000.
Baubles have been tossed off floats since at least 1871, when a masker costumed as Santa Claus aboard float No. 24 in the Twelfth Night Revelers parade dispensed gifts to the crowd.
Since Rex, the King of Carnival, selected them in 1872, the official colors of Mardi Gras have been purple, green and gold. While they were probably chosen simply because they looked good together, Rex assigned a meaning to each in his 1892 parade entitled Symbolism of Colors. Purple represents justice, green stands for faith, and gold signifies power.
Super-krewes such as Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus, scheduled for the three nights before Fat Tuesday, feature a combined total of 110 floats, 90 marching bands, and more than 350 units. Their collective 3,500 members toss more than 2 million cups, 3.5 million doubloons and 350,000 gross of beads. They also annually invite guest celebrities to ride in their parades.
Before the age of recycling, the success of Mardi Gras in Orleans Parish was sometimes measured by the amount of trash collected by the New Orleans Sanitation Department. For several years in the late 1980s, the total for the 12-day parading season topped the 2,000-ton mark.
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to Medival Europe, though we have no written record of how that really transformed into the current Mardi Gras of today. But the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today -- with Kings, Mardi Gras colors, and brass bands -- are traced to New Orleans.
Although we can trace its history to the Romans, a French-Canadian explorer, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans in 1699 and called it "Pointe due Mardi Gras." He also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras....
Inn on Bourbon Hotel
Astor Crowne Plaza
Royal Sonesta, New Orleans Hotel
Date: 3/8/2011 | Hwy 59 from bottom of Intracoastal Canal Bridge to Main Beach Gulf Shores. Price: Free to pbuilc.Laissez les bons temp roulet! (Let the good times roll!) Parade kick off at 10:00 a.m. Get ready to shout, Hey, Mister! Throw me a Moon Pie! Future Mardi Gras Dates: March 8, 2011, February 21, 2012, February 12, 2013, March 4, 2014 and February 17, 2015.
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