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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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The great and wonderful Mardi Gras – a brief history and fun facts

The great and wonderful Mardi Gras – a brief history and fun facts


Communities from every nook and cranny of Louisiana are adorning the glorious colors of purple, green, and gold and taking in all the overindulgence and pleasures of Mardi Gras carnival festivities!

Mardi Gras, known as the “greatest free show on Earth," is something of a rite of passage throughout Louisiana. Especially, right here on the Bayou where people young and old, near and far, and from every walk of life come together and let the good times roll!

Although there are varying dates on the birth of Mardi Gras parades in Louisiana, the inception of the celebration can be traced back to French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville on March 3, 1699, when he set up camp along the banks of the Mississippi River in what is now known as Iberville Parish.

At that time, Pierre dubbed the area Point du Mardi Gras in honor of the holiday, celebrated in France since medieval times.

Another fact few may know is that “street masking” did not become legal until 1827. Before that date, adorning a facemask in the streets could mean facing a possible arrest!

Here are a few more “fun facts” for Mardi Gras:

The first documented parade took place in 1837 in New Orleans when a band of masked revelers took to the streets on foot. It took twenty years until the first floats made their way to the scene in 1857.

Over the course of time, Mardi Gras festivities have become much more elaborate. In the beginning, masqueraders walked their parade routes, which eventually gave way to mules and carriages in later years.

As time went on, tractors took the place of horse-drawn carriages and mules until the use of trucks became the norm in a modernized society.

Mardi Gras festivals in and around the state of Louisiana show no signs of slowing down. That was not always the case. There are historical instances of stalls in the celebration. Wars and even prohibition of the parades have fallen upon the merriment of past carnival seasons bringing festivities to a screeching halt.

Mardi Gras colors signify justice (purple), power (gold), and faith (green) and were chosen by the Rex Krewe (founded in 1872) for their "Symbolism of Colors" parade in 1892.

Houma’s first parade by the Krewe of Houmas, rocked the streets on Fat Tuesday in 1947. The Krewe of Chronos followed suit in 1955 with a parade of their own in Thibodaux.

With the 1960's the Bayou began to see more "local" Krewes such as Krewe of Apollo in 1963 and the Krewe of Neptune in 1966.

The Krewe of Nereids holds the bragging rights of being the first all-female night parade in Lafourche Parish in 1985.

There are only five days of parades left this Mardi Gras season in Lafourche Parish. Grab your coolers, chairs, and plastic totes for your beads and grab a spot to catch the action!

Be sure and check the Mardi Gras parade schedule in this issue of the Lafourche Gazette and get ready for the last days of dancing in the streets until next Mardi Gras season!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!