For out-of-state residents, attending a school in Louisiana may bring you many surprises. One of them is getting nearly a full week off for a holiday called Mardi Gras.
Everyone talks about “going to Mardi Gras” — which is a phrase that bothers me because you don’t say “I’m going to Christmas.” You say “I’m going to Granny’s for Christmas.” So please say “I’m going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.” Before planning a trip to a foreign land to take a sip and catch some beads, it is essential to know the history of what you will be participating in.
Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday in French, was first celebrated in the United State in Mobile, Ala. in 1703. The first celebration came to New Orleans in the 1730s by explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. The governor of Louisiana at that time coordinated balls to celebrate the occasion. The holiday is celebrated with music, parades, picnics, floats and excitement.
About 100 years later, krewes of masked participants on horseback and in carriages filled the streets for processions, which are now called parades. Gas lights were used to light the way, and they lent a festive vibe to the air.
Mistick Krewe of Comus was the first krewe to bring a “dazzling float” to New Orleans.
The holiday grew more and more popular as time progressed with newspapers announcing the Mardi Gras events in advance to gain public attention.
Here are some tips for making this Mardi Gras the best one yet:
Book a hotel or Airbnb MONTHS in advance or stay with a local!
Plan how you’ll get there and how you will get around once there. (The 5 hour drive from Grambling isn’t too bad.)
Get to the parade early! Crowd sizes can go from 0 to 100 real quick, and you want to have the best view!
Do not run into the street! I know you really want those shiny beads, but you need to keep your safety in mind. The drivers of floats may not see you in time to stop.
Lastly, be alert. Being hit by beads really does hurt.