New Orleans, Louisiana, celebrates Mardi gras like no other American city. This world famous carnival starts ob January 6 and continues until February 21 Mardi gras (Fat Tuesday).
Carnival in New Orleans started with French settlers March 1 1699 with the members of exploring parties of Iberville and Bienville to celebrate catholic traditions.
Over time, the carnival grew and is now a spectacle for millions of new Orleanians and American from all over the country. Thousands of foreign tourists also flock to the city to experience the festivities.
The krewes (citizen organizations) organize the floats, establish routes, marshal, design and decorate their own floats with their funds.
Considerable thought and effort are expended to come up with new designs every year, and volunteers accomplish all the work to cerate the float.
The Mardi gras parade originally occurred in the Vieux Carre (French quarter aka Old town). This, the oldest part of New Orleans consists of 13 blocks, and the most famous street in it is Bourbon that starts on the Canal Street.
Over the years, the crowds and floats grew so large that the parade route had to be changed, now starting at Charles Street extending to Canal Street. Both are much wider and allow the parades to proceed at an acceptable pace. The major parade on February 21 this will pass through Royal Street one block north of Bourbon Street towards Canal.
Major parades start five days before Mardi gras, culminating with the most lavish and biggest on Mardi gars that this year will be February 21.
The floats packed with krewe members’ drive slowly displaying ingenious designs, and colourful decorations cheered by an adoring public fuelled by considerable amounts of alcohol. (This is allowed in New Orleans so long as liquids are in plastic glasses). Krewe members throw doubloons (fake coins), colourful beads, plastic throw cups ad small souvenirs to people on the street and enjoy themselves immensely.
Krewe members are dressed in provocative garbs, which also attract a lot of attention from onlookers.
Bourbon Street, starting at Canal Street, is home to several hotels, hundreds of bars, and restaurants. It is here that tourists gather to watch the crowds from balconies of their hotel rooms, having drinks, and with easy conversations.
Some of the hotel rooms overlooking Bourbon Street are rented years in advance to corporations that invite their important customers for a few days of fun and frolic.
In short, carnival is a major tourist attraction for New Orleans, and commercial activity to generate revenue for merchants and the city coffers.
New Orleans Mardi gras is not the only carnival in the world.
Rio de Janeiro’s carnival, that started in 1723 is bigger and more colourful.
The Fat Tuesday of Rio’s carnival this year is on February 18.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago’s capital is also famous for its carnival that started in 1789. This year its Fat Tuesday is on February 21.
Port of Spain’s carnival happens to display more colourful and exotic designs, much due tot eh imagination of the people and weather in the Caribbean.
Port of Spain’s carnival is the most famous of all in the Caribbean generating millions of dollars worth of trade and tourist.
In Europe the carnivals of Cologne, Munich, Vienna and in parts of Alsace and Lorraine are famous.