New Orleans throws its annual Mardi Gras party, mixing old and new
There’s no place on the planet that knows parties better than New Orleans. As the Crescent City gears up for Mardi Gras 2009–that annual celebration of excess–residents and visitors will enjoy old haunts, as well as additions to favorite attractions.
Those coming to New Orleans this February will see familiar sights, like the famous streetcars, and artists creating and selling their work in Jackson Square. Mid City Lanes Rock ‘n’ Bowl, a symbol of New Orleans’ durability since 1941, still offers live music and dancing five nights a week. Cafés still serve decadently delicious beignets and cups of dark coffee blended with chicory. Eating is a big part of Mardi Gras, and city officials brag that there are about 150 more restaurants open in post-Katrina New Orleans. Drinking is another part of Mardi Gras celebrations, and rest assured that Bourbon Street bars are open and the French Quarter is as wonderfully raucous as ever.
Fred. W. Wright Jr. is a contributor from St. Petersburg, Fla.
Mardi Gras madness,Southern style
Mardi Gras in the South. It’s all about the parades, music, throws, food, drink, neighbors–just letting yourself go.
Here are a few celebrations to consider in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.
In Baton Rouge, family-friendly parades are plentiful, running from Feb. 7–21. The oldest parading krewe, the Krewe Mystique de la Capitale, presents its downtown parade at 2 p.m. on Feb. 14. See www.krewemystique.com for information. Click on www.visitbatonrouge.com for more Mardi Gras information.
The Ark-La-Tex area in northern Louisiana celebrates the season with seven parades in two weekends, beginning on Jan. 10 with the Krewe of Sobek parade at 1 p.m. in Shreveport, Fairgrounds Field. A parade that’s gone to the dogs–and cats–the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux steps off at 3 p.m. on Feb. 15 from RiverView Park in Shreveport.
And while visiting the area, stop by the Ark-La-Tex Mardi Gras Museum on East Texas Street in Bossier City. It offers a large collection of Mardi Gras costumes, floats and other interesting laginappe. Admission is $5 for adults. Call (318) 741-3019.
Southwest Louisiana’s Lake Charles area claims to host the state’s second-largest Mardi Gras celebration. With 45 krewes, there will be plenty of parades, costume balls and other events to enjoy.
Welcome the 2009 courts at the annual 12th Night event, Jan. 6 at Lake Charles Civic Center. In contrast to the cool elegance of this affair, grab a spoon and cold drink and head to the Cajun Extravaganza/Gumbo Cook-off on Feb. 21 at the civic center. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., taste all the hot and spicey gumbo you can stand, then dance to Southern and Cajun music. Admission is $5. For details on these and other Mardi Gras events in southwest Louisiana, click on www.visitlakecharles.org.
A country Mardi Gras looks different than a city celebration, and those differences are examined in an exhibit of costumes and traditions Jan. 5–Feb. 25 at Vermilionville–a folklife and heritage park–in Lafayette. The city of Lafayette will stage its first parade of the season at 6:30 on Feb. 14, when “cupid” (a local citizen) leads the Brazillian-themed event from downtown to Cajun Field. For information on the Mardi Gras events in town, check out www.lafayettetravel.com.
In Cajun Country, Mardi Gras on the prairie is called a “courir,” or run, and the area’s biggest Courir de Mardi Gras is Feb. 20–24 in Eunice. On Feb. 20 at 8 a.m., participants gather at the Northwest Community Center and proceed to points here and there as the traditional begging for gumbo ingredients is re-enacted. There’s food, music and dancing, masks, costumes and horses at the courir, which makes for a fun family outing. For information on Cajun Country events, see the St. Landry CVB Web site, www.cajuntravel.com.
Mississippi and Alabama
• Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and its communities also offer a full slate of Mardi Gras fun. The season traditionally kicks off with the Ocean Springs Elks parade at 1 p.m. on Feb. 7 this year. See www.gulfcoast.org for full details.
• The first American Mardi Gras celebration in 1703 happened in–Mobile. Dozens of parades can be enjoyed from Jan. 24–Feb. 24; see www.mobile.org for details. While visiting, check out the newer Mobile Carnival Museum (355 Government St.) to get a history of this spectacle.
The coastal town of Port Arthur, 90 miles east of Houston, is home to Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, a weekend of family fun planned for Feb. 19–22 this year. In addition to a half dozen parades, there’s a carnival and children’s activities, music, food, crafts and more. For information, click on http://mardigras.portarthur.com.
In addition to parades, Galveston’s Mardi Gras will feature music, food, galas and more within the Historic Strand District. For details, visit www.mardigrasgalveston.com.
|Jan/Feb 2009 Issue
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