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Louisiana :

Mardi Gras  (1)



Strictly personal, has a high value.

Allows you to go to the bal masqué of the krewe who invited you.

Some time ago, they were printed in Paris !

Never refer to it as a "ticket".

Mardi Gras

Last day of the carnival, before the Lent season (fasting period).

Bal Masqué

Masked bal, reserved to the members of the club ("krewe") and to their guests.  La "Royalty" (the King, the Queen, the pageants and the Dukes) of the club for the coming year are introduced at this occasion.

Scenes are played on the chosen theme.

Photo : Sydney Byrd


From the Latin "Carnivale" : "Farewell to the flesh".  Period beginning on January 6th, Twelfth Night and Epiphany celebration, and ending on midnight, Mardi Gras, right before the Lent.

King Cake

The equivalent of the "Galette des Rois" in Europe.

But here, the one who finds the "bean" (a plastic figurine) must throw the next party or at least offer the next king cake !  And actually this pastry is served until Mardi Gras, not just one day like in Europe.


Generic term to designate all the organizations (clubs) of Carnival in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras Indians

Group of black men who represent the Amerindians.  Their costumes are magnificent, highly colored with a lot of pearls and feathers.

The most famous tribes are the Tchoupitoulas, the Pocahontas and the Magnolias.

Photo : Jim Scheurich

Photo : Arthur Hardy

Boeuf Gras

Formerly the symbol of the last flesh eaten before the fasting season of the Lent.

The krewe of Rex used to present a live one in its parade, but now it's a fake one.  Still one of the symbol of Mardi Gras.


Absolute chief of each krewe.

Photo : Linwood J. Albarado Jr.


Aluminum coins presenting the krewe symbols on its face and the theme of the year on its back.  They were introduced for the first time in 1960 by Rex, "King of Carnival".

Every year there are different versions of them, in various colors and even metals, which are collected and can be of quite a value !

See "throws".


Traditionally held by black men in white robes, formerly they were the only source of light for the night parades.

Torch carriers march between the floats, dance sometimes and of course benefit from the "throws" the public couldn't catch.

Photo : Christopher Veo

Photo : Sydney Byrd


Cheap trinkets thrown to the public by the members of the krewes, who are masked, from the floats of the parade.

The public thereby can catch doubloons (see above), decorated plastic cups, different gadgets and plastic beads.  These beads are more or less long ; usually, the longer it is (it can go as low as your feet !), the more you have shown.  Shown what ?  Come on, don't be innocent ;)

Some of these gadgets are collected and can be worth a fortune.

Advice : come to the parades with a big, huge bag !

NB : the photos and some of the information above were taken from a yearly Mardi Gras publication but I can't remember the references for the Copyright.  If you can help...  Anyway this publication is protected !

My first Mardi Gras

Willy et Bella, my dear friends, wanted to take advantage of the Carnival's days off to go to Mexico.  So they rushed, before taking the plane, to the first parades in New Orleans, which begin several weeks before Mardi Gras.  Generally speaking, these are much less interesting but fun anyway.

Back home, they told me : "You should have seen us, you wouldn't have recognized us !  We were like crazy, we would have done anything for a plastic bead !"

Beginning of one of the most famous parades : Zulu.
(Here, Zulu's King float in 1994)

The King of Rex, "King of Carnival"

I laughed so much...  And I probably had a sarcastic smile on my face, kind of "Dear Willy", seeing him with a full bag of plastic trinkets...

They had their revenge later, seeing me with several bags full of the same trinkets !

Seems stupid, right ?

However I did see dozens of men and women undressing in the middle of the crowd to get a cheap bead !  I didn't go that far, but at some point I lost my voice after calling and calling the krewe members, so far away in their floats...

My top success ?

Shout, no, yell "Je suis Belge" to the "riders" of the wagon drawn by the "Belgian Horses" !
I got a down-to-the-ankles bead, not showing anything ;)

You didn't understand ?  That's normal.

You would have to (1) read the second page, and (2) go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

To the second "Mardi Gras" page...

Page créée le 25 février 2001 -  Mise à jour le 25 février 2001

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