Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 22, 2019 / Cindy Navarro
Behind the band come six "strong men" from the village often the tradition of carrying the torch or flambeaux is passed from father to son as the elder gets on in years. They sometimes have a helper walking beside them just in case. It s a hard and difficult job. The torches are similar in length to a caber and have been soaked for many months to ensure they stay alight. The flambeaux are then followed by many floats in which the local inhabitants deck both the float and themselves out in a variety of colours and costumes. Many are topical political statements. The more whisky that s handed around the waiting crowd the funnier they seem.
The parades in New Orleans now begin up to three weeks before Mardi Gras with the Carnival season officially starting on the January 6th the Feast of Epiphany. The French Quarter of the city is the heart of the celebration which concludes promptly at midnight on Mardi Gras with the police asking revelers to scatter and the massive clean up getting under way. The krewe system was originally a hierarchical method that showcased the elite of the Carnival and usually New Orleans society. However in the latter part of the 20th century the exclusivity of the krewes was tempered by the formation of new more democratic krewes for which no credentials were required.
In the early 90 s people began to tire of the thin strands of plastic beads and would actually just leave them laying on the ground so some krewe members began to throw larger beads or novelty type beads with a theme. So why throw Mardi Gras beads? There is a school of thought that the beads or representative of the jewelry that was worn by royalty. People stand on the side of the road begging trinkets. "Throw me something Mister" is a phrase you can hear over and over again. If you catch the eye of a krewe member they will reward you by throwing a string of beads or more to you.