It is Mardi Gras Season in New Orleans!

 

In New Orleans, Louisiana – also known as Nola – Mardi Gras 2014 is in full swing! From now until Ash Wednesday our citizens and our streets are turned over to the boundless fun and revelry that is Mardi Gras. Louisiana is the only state in the union where Mardi Gras day is an official holiday.

 

If you are not familiar with Carnival or the history behind the celebration, then let me tell you a little about New Orleans and its love affair with Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday and refers to the practice of eating overly rich food and drinking heavily in preparation for the fasting that is to begin on Ash Wednesday.

 

The season brings with it King Cakes, Carnival Crews, Kings, Queens and Dukes, step ladders on the neutral grounds ( it is what we call our green spaces on the middle of a street,) and masking by a lot of otherwise respectable folks.

 

Two things:

 

  • The step ladders are affixed with little seats at the top which can hold two children.  The children sit there catching beads and trinkets thrown to them by float riders.

 

  • Neutral ground is what we in New Orleans call the green space in the middle of the road. It developed that name as the dividing line between the French and the English neighborhoods of New Orleans.

 

Let me start with an overview of Mardi Gras.

 

 Mardi Gras is a Catholic celebration of excess that takes place every year.  The Mardi Gras season officially begins in New Orleans on January 6 which is the feast of the Epiphany or Kings Day and lasts for two weeks. The Mardi Gras celebrations end at midnight on the day Ash Wednesday begins.  Ash Wednesday is a solemn day in the Catholic faith, it is the day when the faithful are reminded that we come from ash and to ash we shall return.

 

It is said that the first Mardi Gras celebration on what is now American soil, took place on March 3, 1699 when French explorers Iberville and Bienville first landed in what is now Louisiana. On that day, they held a small Mardi Gras celebration in Point du Mardi Gras.  Over the decades that followed, the celebration grew into what it is now: street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners. When Spanish settlers took control of New Orleans, the rowdy rituals were abolished. The ban remained in place until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.

 

It is the Mystic Krewe of Comus, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen that in 1857 organized the first public Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.  Comus, as is known to all New Orleanians, held an organized a Mardi Gras procession, lit by torches (flambeaus), marching bands and rolling floats through the streets of New Orleans. This street party set the tone for future public celebrations in the city. Comus still parades at night.  Comus is the last parade to roll through New Orleans streets, down St. Charles Avenue, still using flambeaus.

 flam

 Since then, the word krewe is associated with organizations created for the purpose of parading during Mardi Gras. Other customs that have endured over time and are intrinsically associated with Mardi Gras in  New Orleans include throwing beads and other trinkets from decorated floats, masking and eating king cake.

Wikipedia – The traditional colors of New Orleans Mardi Gras are purplegreen, and gold. All three colors were used by the Catholic Church throughout history and thus continued to be used in relation to Mardi Gras which was Catholic in origin. Purple stands fro justice. Gold for Power & Green for Faith. -Wikipedia

Mardi-Gras-Beads

 

What is King Cake?

 English Peas

The king cake tradition in New Orleans consists of a twisted ring of a cinnamon flavored dough topped with icing or sugar, in Mardi Gras colors which are purple, green, gold. In recent years the cake has been enhanced with fillings of apple or creams.  Delicious!

 

The tradition of eating king cake in New Orleans also calls for a tiny plastic baby inserted somewhere in the cake.  The person who gets the plastic baby has to buy the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

 

The City of New Orleans is host to many Krewes that will parade over the next two weeks. Some take themselves more seriously than others.  But one thing is for sure, krewe members are genuinely interested in having the best time possible, and bringing to all audiences the best free public show they can.

 

Our New Orleans.

 

New Orleans, established as La Nouvelle-Orléans in May 7, 1718, by French settler Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville, was settled on land then inhabited by Chitimacha Indians and  was named for the then Regent of France, Duke Philippe d´Orleans. Fortunately, the Chitimacha Indians still inhabit parts of Louisiana and are famous for their beautiful baskets.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

 

New Orleans is a unique city, strong and vibrant; in our city, family, food and friendships are pivotal to everyday life.  New Orleans endures; it endured yellow fever, the Civil War, Katrina as well as the foils of convicted Mayor Ray Nagin. New Orleans will continue as a great American city rising from destruction and never forgetting our place in history.

 

The City of New Orleans is older than the United States of America is a country. Never doubt our historic contributions to this great nation.

 

So when it is all said and done, how successful a Mardi Gras day is will be measured using the usual barometers: hotel occupancy and sales tax revenues. However, here we use one more measuring stick: trash tonnage. Once Mardi Gras is over, the city’s Sanitation Department will release figures that will tell us how much trash was cleared after our street parties came to an end, a clear indicator as to how many millions of people were out enjoying this great, free street party!

 

If you have never attended a Mardi Gras come and join us.  All revelers are welcome.

 

Just remember, when the clock strikes midnight on the night of Fat Tuesday, New Orleans Cops will let everyone know that: “Mardi Gras is now over, it is time to go home.”

Mardi Gras Parade Schedule 2014

 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Druids 6:30 p.m. Uptown
Nyx 7:00 p.m. Uptown
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Knights of Babylon 5:30 p.m. Uptown
Chaos 6:30 p.m. Uptown
Muses 6:30 p.m. Uptown
Friday, February 28, 2014
Hermes 6:00 p.m. Uptown
Le Krewe D’etat 6:30 p.m. Uptown
Selene 6:30 p.m. Slidell
Morpheus 7:00 p.m. Uptown
Centurions 7:00 p.m. Metairie
Saturday, March 1, 2014
NOMTOC 10:45 a.m. Westbank
Iris 11:00 a.m. Uptown
Tucks Noon Uptown
Endymion 4:15 p.m. Mid-City
Isis 6:30 p.m. Metairie
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Okeanos 11:00 a.m. Uptown
Mid-City 11:45 p.m. Uptown
Thoth Noon Uptown
Napoleon 5:00 p.m. Metairie
Bacchus 5:15 p.m. Uptown
Monday, March 3, 2014
Proteus 5:15 p.m. Uptown
Orpheus 6:00 p.m. Uptown
Zeus 7:00 p.m. Metairie
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Zulu 8:00 a.m. Uptown
Rex 10:00 a.m. Uptown
Elks Orleanians (Truck Parade) Follows Rex Uptown
Cresent City (Truck Parade) Follows Elks Orleanians Uptown
Grela 10:00 a.m. Gretna
Argus 10:00 a.m. Metairie
Krewe of Jefferson (Truck Parade) Follows Argus Metairie
Elks Jeffersonians (Truck Parade) Follows Krewe of Jefferson Metairie

I an Attorney Mardi Regan, Jr, and this are my personal thoughts…