As a New Orleans resident, Carnival Season and Mardi Gras are unlike any other. The emotions, festivities, and spirit of the season carry throughout the city like wildfire causing hundreds upon hundreds to anticipate the return of our yearly event. In New Orleans, Carnival is all we know, and we know it well. Everything we do or believe in consists around the season ranging from our favorite color scheme of purple, green, and gold to our masquerade balls that people spend hundreds of dollars on to be the most extravagant.
In New Orleans, we have a massive month to two month-long celebration called Carnival which leads up to the final day of celebration known as Mardi Gras, or as natives refer to the day as “Fat Tuesday.” Carnival starts the day after All Kings Day on January 6th. The season consists of endless masquerade balls, parades, parties, and king cakes. All of these events are a must; however as a first timer coming to the city, it is a must to enjoy King Cake. King Cakes are circular yeasted cakes spiced with cinnamon and filled with various fillings or traditionally plain.
As Carnival season persists and gets closer and closer to the big event, Mardi Gras, the parades start rolling approximately two weeks before. The number of parades that roll throughout the city of New Orleans is countless, not including the various parades around the state. Most people assume that only New Orleans partakes in celebration; however, that is false. Nearly the entire state of Louisiana celebrates the majestic celebration of Carnival and Mardi Gras. To find out more about the festivities in Baton Rouge, check out the city’s Mardi Gras guide at http://www.visitbatonrouge.com/mardigras/.
Finally, once you have celebrated and marveled in the majestic nature of Carnival, we get to celebrate the big day, Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is a one day celebration where the entire city watches as the Krewe of Rex and Zulu take the streets of New Orleans and bring the celebration to a close. One fun fact about the Krewe of Rex is that the man dubbed King Rex is given the key to the city of New Orleans and officially takes on responsibility of the city for one entire day.
As the events roll on around me, my mere excitement can not be contained. Mardi Gras is dear to my heart, and I actually had the honor of being a Royal Prince of a parade on Mardi Gras day in 8th grade. My heart belongs to the city of New Orleans, and you can always catch me screaming “Throw Me Something Mister” as the floats roll by or dancing alongside the bands as they march through the streets of New Orleans playing the most upbeat Jazz and Zydeco music you will ever find. I suggest everyone who has never experienced the tradition to drive on down to the city if possible or at least head out to a local parade in the Baton Rouge area just so you can say you got a taste of Mardi Gras.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Meet Justin Daws, a sophomore majoring in Human Resources and Leadership Development, from New Orleans, LA. Justin is a student assistant for Parent & Family Programs.