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The World NEXT ends 

It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.
- Mark Twain / Samuel L. Clemens, March 1859 (in a letter to his sister)

What is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the most famous Carnival celebrations in the world.

The New Orleans Carnival season, with roots in the start of the Catholic season of Lent, starts on Twelfth Night (January 6). The season of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls), and king cake parties begins on that date.

From about two weeks before, through Fat Tuesday, there is at least one major parade each day. The largest and most elaborate parades take place the last five days of the season. In the final week of Carnival many events large and small occur throughout New Orleans and surrounding communities.

The parades in New Orleans are organized by Carnival krewes. Krewe float riders toss throws to the crowds; the most common throws are strings, usually made of plastic colorful beads, doubloons (aluminium or wooden dollar-sized coins usually impressed with a krewe logo), decorated plastic throw cups, and small inexpensive toys. Major krewes follow the same parade schedule and route each year.

While many tourists center their Mardi Gras season activities on Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, none of the major Mardi Gras parades have entered the Quarter since 1972 because of its narrow streets and overhead obstructions. Instead, major parades originate in the Uptown and Mid-City districts and follow a route along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, on the upriver side of the French Quarter.

To New Orleanians, "Mardi Gras" refers only to the final and most elaborate day of the Carnival Season; visitors tend to refer to the entire Carnival as "Mardi Gras." Some locals have thus started to refer to the final day of Carnival as "Mardi Gras Day" to avoid confusion.

Y'all come, now...

Carnival in NOLA

Comments (9)
Craig Wiseman January 10th, 2008 11:51:55 PM

1) It’s Carnival Time!
Timothy Briley 1/11/2008 8:50:52 AM

Two hours to the east of New Orleans is Mobile, AL, the site of the first Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S. and where Mardi Gras is still huge, (crowds of up to 100,000 for a parade). I grew up there and usually go back for Fat Tuesday weekend. They do a lot of things the same way, but there are differences.

In Mobile, the final day is either referred to as Mardi Gras Day, Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday with the entire period of parades being referred to as Mardi Gras.

Also, it's not so Catholic oriented, as Mobile has a sizable population of members of other Christian denominations which also celebrates Lent, such as the Episcopal Church, and therefore Mardi Gras as well.

Another difference is that at Mobile Mardi Gras parades, the krewes throw various types of candy. The most popular thing after beads that is thrown are Moon Pies. Moon Pies are thrown by (and I'm not making this up) the hundreds of thousands.

Something that I'm sure that most people who live on the portion of the Gulf Coast that celebrates Mardi Gras is that the "fake" Mardi Gras put on at Universal Studios in Orlando DURING LENT is just wrong.

2) It’s Carnival Time!
Craig Wiseman 1/11/2008 9:12:35 AM

@1 - Absolutely correct! ...and y'all will never let us forget that y'all were first.... 8-)

There are a number of different areas in the US that have a deep history with Carnival/Mardi Gras:


Pensacola, Fl.

Lafayette, La.

New Roads, La.

Houma, La.

Other La

Being from NOLA and having grown up with Carnival, one thing I never really was aware of until I got a lot older was how well behaved the crowds are. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people out during carnival, and maybe a couple of thousand of police, and there are very rarely any issues.

Another thing that a lot of folks don't know is that, while there is a wild side in NOLA (centered around the Quarter), Carnival is VERY family oriented in most places, and this is true in Mobile and pretty much everywhere else. It's very much a 'get the family and friends together, visit and have fun' kind of time.

3) It’s Carnival Time!
Timothy Briley 1/11/2008 9:32:56 AM

Mobile's Mardi Gras is pretty family friendly. I've never had a young lady flash me. :(

The political power in the state is mainly north of Mobile and the powers that be have no respect for Mardi Gras. They actually scheduled the primary for Fat Tuesday! Mobile powers that be has countered by opening the polling on the previous Wednesday and only having one place in the entire county to vote on Fat Tuesday.

People from other parts of the country have stated that we have our priorities wrong. Our response has been that it's not a matter of priorities, it's a matter of logistics.

Try to imagine if the political parties tried to force an election to be held on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans!

4) It’s Carnival Time!
Craig Wiseman 1/11/2008 9:47:50 AM

Indeed. Baton Rouge has it's own (smaller, but getting much better) carnival season, so they're smart enough to not try that (it'd ruin their time as well!).

Outside the Quarter, you won't get flashed in NOLA either. Oh, and to my young relatives reading this - I've NEVER been flashed either.

5) It’s Carnival Time!
Michelle Teague (formerly Scarcella) 1/12/2008 8:47:14 PM

I have very fond memories of Carnival and Mardi Gras. Granted, the parades in Slidell were not all that, but I LOVED going to Bachus! The festive atmosphere, the torches, the massive parties. Ahh, those were the days.

I had the opportunity to introduce my neighbors to king case this week. One was a bit surprised when she found the baby doll. I gave her Gambino's number and told her she got to host the next one. :-)

6) It’s Carnival Time!
Westborn 1/14/2008 2:57:48 PM

Is this Craig wiseman the country song writer?

James out4now

7) It’s Carnival Time!
Craig Wiseman 1/15/2008 2:39:10 PM

Probably not, unless you want to send me royalties 8-)

8) It’s Carnival Time!
Coach Joe Cullen 1/17/2008 6:14:09 PM

Haven't had any flashers at Mardi Gras?




9) It’s Carnival Time!
Richie (phi psi) http;// 1/17/2008 6:14:53 PM


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