Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who Is Ready For The Mardi Gras In New Orleans

By Abby Cassinia

The Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, in New Orleans, allows people to indulge before the start of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. You can rest assured though, because you are in for one hell of a ride, with more fun, more excitement, more celebrations and more colorful costumes than you will have ever seen before.

The Mardi Gras originates from France where it has been celebrated since the Middle Ages. A French explorer known as Iberville landed sixty miles south of the current-day New Orleans, christening the spot Point du Mardi Gras. By around 1823 the American government was persuaded by the local Creoles to re-introduce the Mardi Gras with parties and great merriment. By the time the 19th Century came around, the Mardi Gras was turning into the huge carnival as we know it today, with much revelry and dancing in the streets accompanied by beautifully decorated horse drawn carriages and floats.

What you will find at this outrageous carnival are French royals, showgirls dressed in feathers, painted clowns and bunnies, all parading the streets of New Orleans. You can join in the throngs of people to watch magnificent floats go by, performers performing outrageous tricks and heaps of marching bands and plenty of jazz music to draw you in. You can expect to see more than 350 floats and over 15000 costumes being paraded.

A major attraction at Mardi Gras is the throwing of many thousands of colorful bead necklaces from the floats. These form a sort of souvenir for the crowd that everyone gets to take home with them. There is also plenty of cups and toy coins thrown as well. A tradition that originated many years ago at Mardi Gras was during a visit by the Russian duke Alexis Romanoff. These days their royal house colors of purple, green and gold, which stand for justice, faith and power, have now become the official colors of the Mardi Gras.

The Mardi Gras is just one big holiday in New Orleans and businesses and roads get shut down so that people can enjoy the excitement.

So who is up for a piece of cake? Not just any cake, I'm talking "King Cakes"! There are over 500,000 king cakes sold each year throughout New Orleans during the Mardi Gras season. This fantastic Mardi Gras treats has also spawn a great export market with 50,000 king cakes being shipped from the city each year. The very best of these king cakes include a small plastic baby doll. The one who gets this particular cake is declared a 'king', but then they also have to shout the next cake!

At the commence of Mardi Gras season in New Orleans a group of about fifty people called the Phunny Phorty Phellows, (or PPP for short) ride in their costumes in a decorated car along St Charles Avenue blowing loud trumpets. They are also accompanied by another New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition, the Dixieland band.

One can go on talking about the New Orleans Mardi Gras, but you have to be there to experience the magic. It is on the bucket list of things to do for millions of would-be travelers.

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