Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 19, 2019 / Rachel Gates
Mardi Gras Indians have been parading in New Orleans at least since the mid-19th century possibly before. It is February 24th/25th but we are extending the celebrations. Mardi Gras weekend kicks off on the Friday before February 24th with the Merchants Parade and the weekend holds all sorts of fun from gumbo cook-offs to Cajun food and music Children s activities various parades and the grand finale is the Krewe of Krewes Parade on Carl day. The parades are a big attraction. Get the Parade Schedule -- Since this is the main attraction for most visitors to Mardi Gras it s important to get the parade schedule as soon as possible so you can plan your itinerary.
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.
Masks made from pale pastel plumage with shiny sequins are standard fare at Mardi gras Carnival and masquerade parties. There s an allure and style to them possessed by no other costume element. Much is made of our desire to pretend and the imagination s ability to do so. Few activities give us the opportunity as readily as does the costume party. Frills and flourishes that have no other place are found in abundance at parades of show costume-clad dancers wearing yards of sequined fishnet and feathered elegance. None of it would have the same mystery without the elegance of the mask. These beautiful adornments have a history of their own that heralds back to court functions in pre-Revolutionary France. There s the hint of a palace in every feathery sequined one of them.