I am from Indianapolis, but my mom is from New Orleans. As a child we would visit for Mardi Gras (French for ‘Fat Tuesday’), or as the locals call it ‘Carnival’ frequently. Carnival for kids is like Halloween but the difference is that the event goes on for days instead of hours. You dress up, go to parades and are given beads thrown from floats at the parades. I last attended Mardi Gras at age 22 with some college friends. Mardi Gras is a fun event for adults as well. Many people are known to ‘laissez les bon temps rouler‘ (French for ‘let the good times roll’). Being once owned by France there is some minor French influence in the city, mostly in street names, some architecture, and use of French phrases such as the one I just mentioned.
Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday in the Catholic church, is the day that many people let it all hang out and the following day you are supposed to go to church and repent for your sins! 40 days later is Easter and the following year the whole cycle continues. I hope one day to experience Mardi Gras in Brazil and Italy, two other countries that know how to celebrate Mardi Gras.
For now I leave you with pictures, all taken by my dad George who goes out each year taking shots around New Orleans now that my parents live in there.
My dad and mom have always gone to find the ‘Mardi Gras Indians’ and my dad loves to take photos of them. Not many tourists know about the Indians and I actually had to look them up for this blog to find out their history.
Here is text copied from the website Mardi Gras Tradition and History. “Mardi Gras is full of secrets, and the Mardi Gras Indians are as much a part of that secret society as any other carnival organization. The Mardi Gras Indians are comprised, in large part, of the African-American communities of New Orleans’ inner city. They have paraded for well over a century, yet their parade is perhaps the least recognized Mardi Gras tradition”.
Parade floats above. I love to catch some beads!!! If you’re standing next to a local you might hear them say, “Throw me some beads mister!”. I’ve done well catching beads over the years, but when I had my cute little cousins with me we would rake in the most beads, the Mardi Gras krewes (the organizations that fund a parade & stand on the floats) love cute kids!!
I love the costumes and colors!!! I hope everyone has the opportunity to go and experience Mardi Gras first hand. You have to be cautious in the busy areas, but if you go further along the parade routes the festivities can be enjoyed by both the young and old. Bonne chance (good luck)!!