Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 5


One of the many Mardi Gras throws which krewes fling into the crowds, doubloons are large coins, either wood or metal, made in Mardi Gras colors. Artist H. Alvin Sharpe created the modern doubloon for The School of Design (the actual name of the Rex organization). According to the krewe history, in January 1959 Sharpe arrived at the offices of the captain of the krewe with a handful of aluminum discs. Upon entering the office, he threw the doubloons into the captain’s face to prove that they would be safe to throw from the floats. Standard krewe doubloons usually portray the Krewe’s emblem, name, and founding date on one side, and the theme and year of the parade and ball on the other side. Royalty and members of the court may throw specialty doubloons, such as the special Riding Lieutenant doubloons given out by men on horseback in the Rex parade. In the last decade, krewes have minted doubloons specific to each float. Krewes also mint special doubloons of cloisonné or pure silver for its members. They never throw these from the floats. Original Rex doubloons are valuable, but it is nearly impossible for aficionados to find a certified original doubloon. The School of Design did not begin dating their doubloons until a few years after their introduction.

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Flambeau carriers

The flambeau (“flahm-bo” meaning flame-torch) carrier originally, before electric lighting, served as a beacon for New Orleans parade goers to better enjoy the spectacle of night parades. The first flambeau carriers were slaves.

Today, the flambeaux are a connection to the New Orleans version of Carnival and a valued contribution. Many people view flambeau-carrying as a kind of performance art – a valid assessment given the wild gyrations and flourishes displayed by experienced flambeau carriers in a parade. Many individuals are descended from a long line of carriers.

Parades that commonly feature flambeaux include Babylon, Chaos, Le Krewe d’Etat, Druids, Hermes, Krewe of MusesKrewe of OrpheusKrewe of Proteus, Saturn, and Sparta. Flambeaux are powered by naphtha[citation needed], a highly flammable aromatic.

It is a tradition, when the flambeau carriers pass by during a parade, to toss quarters to them in thanks for carrying the lights of Carnival. In the 21st century, though, handing dollar bills is common.

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Each year in New Orleans, krewes are responsible for electing Rex, the king of the carnival. The Rex Organization was formed to create a daytime parade for the residents of the city. The Rex motto is, “Pro Bono Publico—for the public good.”[

Mardi Gras icons

  • Faces of Comedy and Tragedy
  • Feathered masks
  • “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” (French: “Let the good times roll!”)
  • “Throw me something, Mister!

New Orleans Zulu or Mardi Gras Coconut

One of the most famous and the most sought after throws, is the Zulu Coconut also known as the Golden Nugget and the Mardi Gras Coconut.  The coconut is mentioned as far back as 1910, where they were given in a natural “hairy” state. The coconut was thrown as a cheap alternative, especially in 1910 when the bead throws were made of glass. Before the Krewe of Zulu threw coconuts, they threw walnuts that were painted gold. This is where the name “Golden Nugget” originally came from. It is thought that Zulu switched from walnuts to coconuts in the early 1920s when a local painter, Lloyd Lucus, started to paint coconuts. Most of the coconuts have two decorations. The first is painted gold with added glitter, and the second is painted like the famous black Zulu faces. In 1988, the city forbade Zulu from throwing coconuts due to the risk of injury; they are now handed to onlookers rather than thrown. In the year 2000, a local electronics engineer, Willie Clark, introduced an upgraded version of the classic, naming them Mardi Gras Coconuts. These new coconuts were first used by the club in 2002, giving the souvenirs to royalty and city notables.

Ojen liqueur

Aguardiente de Ojén (es), or simply “ojen” (“OH-hen”) as it is known in English, is a Spanish anisette traditionally consumed during the New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities.[ In Ojén, the original Spanish town where it is produced, production stopped for years, but it started again in early 2014 by means of the distillery company Dominique Mertens Impex. S.L.[

Exposure and Mardi Gras

Women showing their breasts during Mardi Gras has been documented since 1889, when the Times-Democrat decried the “degree of immodesty exhibited by nearly all female masqueraders seen on the streets.” The practice was mostly limited to tourists in the upper Bourbon Street area.  In the crowded streets of the French Quarter, generally avoided by locals on Mardi Gras Day, flashers on balconies cause crowds to form on the streets.

In the last decades of the 20th century, the rise in producing commercial videotapes catering to voyeurs helped encourage a tradition of women baring their breasts in exchange for beads and trinkets. Social scientists studying “ritual disrobement” found, at Mardi Gras 1991, 1,200 instances of body-baring in exchange for beads or other favors.

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End of New Orleans Mardi Gras

The formal end of New Orleans Mardi Gras arrives with the “Meeting of the Courts,” a ceremony at which Rex and His Royal Consort, the King and Queen of Carnival, meet with Comus and his Queen, at the ball of the Mistick Krewe of Comus, New Orleans’ oldest active Carnival organization. The Meeting of the Courts happens at the conclusion of the two groups’ masked balls, which in modern times have both been held at the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium. Following Hurricane Katrina, the ball has been held in the Marriott Hotel.

Promptly at the stroke of midnight at the end of Fat Tuesday, a mounted squad of New Orleans police officers make a show of clearing upper Bourbon Street where the bulk of out-of-town revelers congregate, announcing that Carnival is over, as it is the start of Lent, commencing with Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday (the day after Big Tuesday) is sometimes jokingly referred to as “Trash Wednesday” because of the amount of refuse left in the streets during the previous day’s celebrations and excesses. The tons of garbage picked up by the sanitation department is a local news item, partly because it reflects the positive economic impact of tourist revenue.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

How to Make Slime

Did you know you can make your own slime or “goop” for a fun learning and play activity? Non-Newtonian liquids are fascinating for all ages and provide a great learning opportunity about chemistry.

Find four popular slime recipes below.

Simple Slime Recipe

This version of slime (or Gak) is made of glue and Borax.

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. In one bowl mix 1 oz. glue (about ¼ of the glue bottle) and ¼ cup water. If you want colored slime, add food coloring to the glue and water mixture. Lift some of the solution out of the container with the stir stick and note what happens.
  2. Add ¼ cup of Sodium Tetraborate (Borax) Solution to the glue and water mixture and stir slowly.
  3. The slime will begin to form immediately. Lift some of the solution with the stir stick and observe how the consistency has changed from Step 1.
  4. Stir as much as you can, then dig in and knead it with your hands until it gets less sticky. This is a messy experience but is necessary because it
    allows the two compounds to bond completely. Don’t worry about any
    leftover water in the bowl; just pour it out.
  5. When not in use, store the slime in a plastic bag in the fridge to keep it
    from growing mold.

What Happened:

The glue has an ingredient called polyvinyl acetate, which is a liquid polymer. The borax links the polyvinyl acetate molecules to each other, creating one large, flexible polymer. This kind of slime will get stiffer and more like putty the more you play with it. Experiment with different glues to see if they create slime (e.g., carpenter glue, tacky glue, etc.).

Super Slime

The second type of slime is the same clear gooey kind that you see in the
movies. This is the real gooey deal! (This slime is non-toxic, but still keep these chemicals away from unsupervised children and wash your hands after playing with the slime.)

What You Need:

What You Do:

  1. Pour ½ cup of the polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) solution into a beaker, jar, or bowl. If you want colored slime, add food coloring to the PVA solution and stir with a stir stick.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of the Sodium Tetraborate (Borax) Solution into the PVA solution
    and stir slowly.
  3. Try lifting some of the solution with the stir stick and note what happens.
    Once the slime has formed, you can play with it. Just don’t eat it!
  4. Your slime will last longer if you seal it in a plastic bag and keep it in the
    fridge, otherwise it will dry out or mold.

What Happened:

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a liquid polymer and is therefore formed from long chains of connected molecules. The sodium tetraborate forms hydrogen bonds with oxygen present in the PVA chains. Hydrogen bonds occur when the positive charge of the hydrogen atoms attracts the negative charge of the oxygen atoms within the compound. The hydrogen bonds link the individual PVA strands to each other, creating a “blob” of slime. Since hydrogen bonds are weak, they will break and reform as you hold the slime or let it ooze onto a flat surface.

Glooze Slime

This slimy substance is made from milk.

What You Need:

  • Skim milk
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • A coffee filter

What You Do:

  1. Add 7 tablespoons of skim milk to a cup and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar
    to the milk. Gently stir the mixture until solids have formed.
  2. Let the solids sink to the bottom of the mixture and then drain off the
    liquid using a filter (a coffee filter works best). Let the solids drain for a few minutes.
  3. Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to the solids and knead together to form a slimy mixture from milk.

What Happened:

When you added the vinegar to the milk, it caused the milk’s protein, casein, which is also a polymer, to separate from the liquid part of the milk and clump together to form solids. Casein is used in adhesives, paints, and even plastics. The baking soda neutralizes the acid added, which allows the casein to go back to its liquid form.

Oobleck or Quicksand Slime

Make a non-Newtonian fluid that resembles quicksand using cornstarch.

What You Need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • A big bowl

What You Do:

  1. In the plastic mixing bowl, combine small amounts of water and cornstarch together to form a mixture that looks like heavy whipping cream and has the consistency of honey. The approximate ratio of the cornstarch to water mixture is 2 cups of cornstarch to 1 cup of water. So if you use all of a regular-sized box of cornstarch (about 16 oz.), you will use about 1½ cups of water. It is best to start with less water and slowly add it until the desired consistency is reached.
  2. After making your mixture, gently lay your hand on the surface of the cornstarch-water mixture. You should notice that your hand sinks in the mixture like you would expect it to do. Move your hand through the mixture, slowly first and then trying to move it really fast. Was it easier to move your hand slowly or quickly through it?
  3. If your mixture is deep enough to submerge your entire hand in it, try grabbing a handful of the mixture and pulling your hand out quickly. Then try again, this time relaxing your hand and pulling it out slowly. Did you notice a difference?
  4. Try punching the cornstarch-water mixture. (Be careful not to hurt yourself on the bowl!) Make sure to hit the substance hard and pull your fist back quickly. Did the substance splatter everywhere or did it remain in the bowl? (If it splattered, add more cornstarch.)

Whenever you gently and slowly move your hand through the cornstarch-water mixture, it behaves like a liquid. But when you try to move your hand through it quickly or forcefully hit the substance, it behaves like a solid. This cornstarch-water mixture behaves similarly to quicksand.

What Happened:

The flow and movement of a fluid is affected by its viscosity, or how sticky and thick it is. Quicksand and the cornstarch-water mixture are both non-Newtonian fluids. Non-Newtonian viscosity changes with the type of force applied to it. The viscosity of Newtonian fluids (such as water and honey, which follow Sir Isaac Newton’s law of viscosity) is dependent only on the temperature and pressure of the fluid, not the force applied to it. For instance, warm honey (less viscous) flows much more freely than cold honey (more viscous).

Since the ability of a non-Newtonian fluid to move depends on the force or stress applied to it, these fluids do not act like ones we are more familiar with (e.g., honey or water). A light pressure, such as pouring or gently pressing the cornstarch-water mixture, allows it to move like a liquid.

Other fun home recipes:

Use glue and borax to make a colorful bouncy ball

Sodium Tetraborate (Borax) Solution Recipe

  1. Label an 8 oz. plastic bottle “Sodium Tetraborate (Borax) Solution” with a permanent marker.
  2. Fill the bottle about ¾ full with water.
  3. Add 4 teaspoons of sodium tetraborate to the water and shake until mostly dissolved.
  4. Fill the bottle to the top with water and shake again to completely dissolve the sodium tetraborate solids.

More Information about non-Newtonian Liquid

A non-Newtonian liquid is a substance that acts like a liquid in some situations but as a solid in others. Quicksand is an example of a non-Newtonian liquid. It appears to be solid, but if you stand on it, you slowly start sinking as if it were a liquid.

Polymers are what make non-Newtonian liquids unique. A polymer is a long string of molecules which can exist as a liquid or a solid. The
term polymer comes from the Greek words for “many parts.” Liquid polymers act as a liquid until particular chemicals are added, which create links between the molecules. These links transform the compound into a hybrid between liquid and solid. Since the molecules are now connected, they cannot move as freely, which gives them the strange properties found in slime. The new compound is called a non-Newtonian liquid.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 4

Lundi Gras

Monday is known as Lundi Gras (“Fat Monday”). The monarchs of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club and Krewe of Rex, who will parade the following day, arrive by boat on the Mississippi Riverfront at the foot of Canal Street, where an all-day party is staged.

Uptown parades start with one of New Orleans’ most prestigious organizations, the Krewe of Proteus. Dating to 1882, it is the second-oldest krewe still parading. The Proteus parade is followed by a newer organization, the music-themed super-Krewe of Orpheus, which is considered less prestigious as it draws a significant portion of its membership from outside of New Orleans.

Image result for bacchus parade

Mardi Gras

The celebrations begin early on Mardi Gras, which can fall on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9 (depending on the date of Easter, and thus of Ash Wednesday).[

In New Orleans, uptown, the Zulu parade rolls first, followed by the Rex parade, which both end on Canal Street. A number of smaller parading organizations with “truck floats” follow the Rex parade. Numerous smaller parades and walking clubs also parade around the city. The Jefferson City Buzzards, the Lyons Club, the Irish Channel Corner ClubPete Fountain‘s Half Fast Walking Club and the KOE all start early in the day Uptown and make their way to the French Quarter with at least one jazz band. At the other end of the old city, the Society of Saint Anne journeys from the Bywater through Marigny and the French Quarter to meet Rex on Canal Street. The Pair-O-Dice Tumblers rambles from bar to bar in Marigny and the French Quarter from noon to dusk. Various groups of Mardi Gras Indians, divided into uptown and downtown tribes, parade in their finery.

For upcoming Mardi Gras Dates through 2050 see Mardi Gras Dates.

Costumes and masks

In New Orleans, costumes and masks are seldom publicly worn by non-Krewe members on the days before Fat Tuesday (other than at parties), but are frequently worn on Mardi Gras. Laws against concealing one’s identity with a mask are suspended for the day. Banks are closed, and some businesses and other places with security concerns (such as convenience stores) post signs asking people to remove their masks before entering.


Inexpensive strings of beads and toys have been thrown from floats to parade-goers since at least the late 19th century. Until the 1960s, the most common form was multi-colored strings of glass beads made in Czechoslovakia.

Glass beads were supplanted by less expensive and more durable plastic beads, first from Hong Kong, then from Taiwan, and more recently from China. Lower-cost beads and toys allow float-riders to purchase greater quantities, and throws have become more numerous and common.

In the 1990s, many people lost interest in small, cheap beads, often leaving them where they landed on the ground. Larger, more elaborate metallic beads and strands with figures of animals, people, or other objects have become the sought-after throws. David Redmond’s 2005 film of cultural and economic globalizationMardi Gras: Made in China, follows the production and distribution of beads from a small factory in Fuzhou, China to the streets of New Orleans during Carnival.  The publication of Redmon’s book, Beads Bodies, and Trash, follows up on the documentary by providing an ethnographic analysis of the social harms, the pleasures, and the consequences of the toxicity that Mardi Gras beads produce.

With the advent of the 21st century, more sophisticated throws began to replace simple metallic beads. Krewes started to produce limited edition beads and plush toys that are unique to the krewe. Fiber optic beads and LED-powered prizes are now among the most sought-after items. In a retro-inspired twist, glass beads have returned to parades. Now made in India, glass beads are one of the most valuable throws.

Image result for endymion parade

Other Mardi Gras traditions

Social ClubsT

New Orleans Social clubs play a very large part in the Mardi Gras celebration as hosts of many of the parades on or around Mardi Gras. The two main Mardi Gras parades, Zulu and Rex, are both social club parades. Zulu is a mostly African-American club and Rex is mostly Caucasian. Social clubs host Mardi Gras balls, starting in late January. At these social balls, the queen of the parade (usually a young woman between the ages of 18 and 21, not married and in high school or college) and the king (an older male member of the club) present themselves and their court of maids (young women aged 16 to 21), and different divisions of younger children with small roles in the ball and parade, such as a theme-beformal neighborhood Carnival club ball at local bar room.

In response to their exclusion from Rex, in 1909 Créole and black New Orleanians, led by a mutual aid group known as “The Tramps”, adorned William Storey with a tin can crown and banana stalk scepter and named him King Zulu. This display was meant as a mockery of Rex’s overstated pageantry, but in time, Zulu became a grand parade in its own right. By 1949, as an indication of Zulu’s increase in prestige, the krewe named New Orleans’ native son Louis Armstrong as its king.[

Being a member of the court requires much preparation, usually months ahead. Women and girls must have dress fittings as early as the May before the parade, as the season of social balls allows little time between each parade. These balls are generally by invitation only. Balls are held at a variety of venues in the city, large and small, depending on the size and budget of the organization. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the French Opera House was a leading venue for New Orleans balls. From the mid 20th century until Hurricane Katrina the Municipal Auditorim was the city’s most famous site for Carnival balls. In more recent years, most are at the ballrooms of various hotels throughout the city. The largest “Super Krewes” use larger venues; Bacchus the Morial Convention Center and Endymion the Superdome.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Getting your garden ready….

This checklist will help you get a good start on a new season

A new growing season is under way. Are you ready? Here’s a to-do list to get you started:

Pulling a winter weed
Pull weeds when they’re young and when the ground is soft.© George Weigel
  1. Pull those weeds. Whether you’re seeing left-over weeds from last year or new ones that sprouted in cool weather, eliminate them now when the ground’s still soft from winter. They’ll come out easier than in hard, dry summer soil. Especially remove them before they have a chance to grow and deeply root, and especially pull them before they have a chance to go to seed.
  2. Prune the summer-blooming flowering shrubs.End of winter to early spring is prime time to prune shrubs that flower from late June through fall. This includes abelia, butterfly bush, beautyberry, caryopteris, clethra (summersweet), smooth hydrangea, panicle hydrangea, rose-of-sharon, St. Johnswort, crape myrtle, summer-blooming spirea and vitex. All of these bloom on wood that grows in the current season, so there’s no danger of cutting off flower buds that formed last year. Wait until right after flowering to prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as azalea, rhododendron, weigela, lilac, forsythia and viburnum.
  3. Fertilize the beds. Once the ground thaws, apply granular fertilizer around the trees, shrubs and perennials. Match the particular product to the plant type and to any particular nutrient needs spelled out by a soil test. Natural Start by GreenView All Purpose Plant Food is rich in natural and organic nutrients and will help your plants get the most out of your soil. It is great for your annuals, perennials, roses, and bulbs whether they are in the ground or in containers.
  4. Inspect trees and shrubs for winter damage. Prune off any broken, dead or storm-damaged branches. Also snip the tips off of any evergreens that have suffered tip diebacks from winter’s cold.
  5. Rake off or trim any winter-killed, brown leaves from last year’s perennial flowers.© George WeigelGet rid of dead perennial leaves. If you didn’t already cut back your frost-killed perennial flowers last fall, rake or clip off that browned foliage now. It’ll clear the way for this year’s new growth, which will be pushing up shortly. If you notice that any perennials have worked their way partly out of the ground due to winter freezing and thawing, tamp them back down so the roots aren’t exposed. Water them and add an inch or two of mulch around them.
  6. Divide perennials. Right before new growth begins is an ideal time to dig and divide most perennial flowers that are growing beyond where you’d like them. Replant divided clumps ASAP, and water them well in their new home. Or give away pieces or compost any excess. The exception is early-season perennials that already are blooming – or that are in bud and ready to bloom soon. These are best divided after bloom or in early fall.
  7. Rake matted or excessive leaves off the lawn and out of groundcover beds.© George WeigelRake matted leaves. Leaves that have blown under and around trees, shrubs and perennials can be left in place and mulched over, assuming they’re in modest quantities. No need to remove those. However, matted leaves should be raked or blown off of the lawn and out of evergreen groundcover beds so these green plants can take in sunlight. Patch any bare spots in the lawn with one of three different GreenView Grass Seedmixes.
  8. Remove winter protection. As the threat of frost wanes, remove burlap barriers, wraps and other protective material from around landscape plants that needed the extra winter protection. Also remove any staking from new trees if they’ve been in the ground for more than a year.
  9. Problem prevention. Apply GreenView Crabgrass Control Plus Lawn Food on the lawn (if you’ve had a crabgrass problem in the past) and a granular weed preventer such as Preen® Garden Weed Preventer on the garden beds. A good cue for the former is when the dandelions are blooming, and a good cue for the latter is when forsythia bushes are in full bloom. GreenView Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed and Feed and Crabgrass Preventer is a great option to kill existing weeds in the lawn, fertilize it, and prevent new weeds all in one easy application.
  10. Edge beds. Whether you use a long-handled, people-powered edging tool or power edger, end of winter is a good time to cut sharp edges along all garden beds. This not only neatens the landscape, it creates a “lip” to contain mulch that can be applied once the soil warms consistently for the season.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 3

Traditional colors

The colors traditionally associated with Mardi Gras in New Orleans are greengold, and purple. The colors were first specified in proclamations by the Rex organization during the lead-up to their inaugural parade in 1872, suggesting that balconies be draped in banners of these colors. It is unknown why these specific colors were chosen; some accounts suggest that they were initially selected solely on their aesthetic appeal, as opposed to any true symbolism.[

Errol Laborde, author of Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization, presented a theory that the colors were based on heraldry; all three colors fall within those of tincture, and that if Rex’s goal were to create a tricolor to represent their “kingdom”, purple was widely associated with royalty, while white was already heavily used on other national flags, and was thus avoided. Furthermore, he noted that a flag in green, gold and purple in that order complies with the rule of tincture, which states that metals (gold or silver) can only be placed on or next to other colors, and that colors cannot be placed on or next to other colors.[

Following a color-themed Rex parade in 1892 that featured purple, green, and gold-colored floats themed around the concepts, the Rex organization retroactively declared that the three colors symbolized justice, power, and faith. The traditional colors are commonly addressed as purple, green, and gold, in that order—even though this order violates the rule of tincture.

Image result for endymion parade

Contemporary Mardi Gras


Epiphany, on January 6, has been recognized as the start of the New Orleans Carnival season since at least 1900; locally, it is sometimes known as Twelfth Night although this term properly refers to Epiphany Eve, January 5, the evening of the twelfth day of Christmastide.[ The Twelfth Night Revelers, New Orleans’ second-oldest Krewe, have staged a parade and masked ball on this date since 1870. A number of other groups such as the Phunny Phorty Phellows, La Société Pas Si Secrète Des Champs-Élysées and the Krewe de Jeanne D’Arc have more recently begun to stage events on Epiphany as well.

Many of Carnival’s oldest societies, such as the Independent Strikers’ Society, hold masked balls but no longer parade in public.[c

Mardi Gras season continues through Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday.

Days leading up to Mardi Gras Day

The population of New Orleans more than doubles during the five days before Mardi Gras Day, in anticipation of the biggest celebration.[c

Wednesday night begins with Druids, and is followed by the Mystic Krewe of Nyx, the newest all-female Krewe. Nyx is famous for their highly decorated purses, and has reached Super Krewe status since their founding in 2011.

Thursday night starts off with another all-women’s parade featuring the Krewe of Muses. The parade is relatively new, but its membership has tripled since its start in 2001. It is popular for its throws (highly sought-after decorated shoes and other trinkets) and themes poking fun at politicians and celebrities.

Friday night is the occasion of the large Krewe of Hermes and satirical Krewe D’État parades, ending with one of the fastest-growing krewes, the Krewe of Morpheus.  There are several smaller neighborhood parades like the Krewe of Barkus and the Krewe of OAK.

Several daytime parades roll on Saturday (including Krewe of Tucks and Krewe of Isis) and on Sunday (ThothOkeanos, and Krewe of Mid-City).

The first of the “super krewes,” Endymion, parades on Saturday night, with the celebrity-led Bacchus parade on Sunday night 1998.

Image result for bacchus parade

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 2

History (Continued)

1972 was the last year in which large parades went through the narrow streets of the city’s French Quarter section; larger floats, crowds, and fire safety concerns led the city government to prohibit parades in the Quarter. Major parades now skirt the French Quarter along Canal Street.

In 1979 the New Orleans police department went on strike. The official parades were canceled or moved to surrounding communities, such as Jefferson Parish. Significantly fewer tourists than usual came to the city. Masking, costuming, and celebrations continued anyway, with National Guard troops maintaining order. Guardsmen prevented crimes against persons or property but made no attempt to enforce laws regulating morality or drug use; for these reasons, some in the French Quarter bohemian community recall 1979 as the city’s best Mardi Gras ever.

In 1991 the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that required social organizations, including Mardi Gras Krewes, to certify publicly that they did not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, to obtain parade permits and other public licenses.  Shortly after the law was passed, the city demanded that these krewes provide them with membership lists, contrary to the long-standing traditions of secrecy and the distinctly private nature of these groups. In protest—and because the city claimed the parade gave it jurisdiction to demand otherwise-private membership lists—the 19th-century krewes Comus and Momus stopped parading. Proteus did parade in the 1992 Carnival season but also suspended its parade for a time, returning to the parade schedule in 2000.

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Several organizations brought suit against the city, challenging the law as unconstitutional. Two federal courts later declared that the ordinance was an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights of free association, and an unwarranted intrusion on the privacy of the groups subject to the ordinance.[ The US Supreme Court refused to hear the city’s appeal from this decision.

Today, New Orleans krewes operate under a business structure; membership is open to anyone who pays dues, and any member can have a place on a parade float.

The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in late 2005 caused a few people to question the future of the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations. Mayor Nagin, who was up for reelection in early 2006, tried to play this sentiment for electoral advantage[c. However, the economics of Carnival were, and are, too important to the city’s revival.

The city government, essentially bankrupt after Hurricane Katrina, pushed for a scaled back celebration to limit strains on city services. However, many krewes insisted that they wanted to and would be ready to parade, so negotiations between krewe leaders and city officials resulted in a compromise schedule. It was scaled back but less severely than originally suggested.

The 2006 New Orleans Carnival schedule included the Krewe du Vieux on its traditional route through Marigny and the French Quarter on February 11, the Saturday two weekends before Mardi Gras. There were several parades on Saturday, February 18, and Sunday the 19th a week before Mardi Gras. Parades followed daily from Thursday night through Mardi Gras. Other than Krewe du Vieux and two Westbank parades going through Algiers, all New Orleans parades were restricted to the Saint Charles Avenue Uptown to Canal Street route, a section of the city which escaped significant flooding. Some krewes unsuccessfully pushed to parade on their traditional Mid-City route, despite the severe flood damage suffered by that neighborhood.

The city restricted how long parades could be on the street and how late at night they could end. National Guard troops assisted with crowd control for the first time since 1979. Louisiana State troopers also assisted, as they have many times in the past. Many floats had been partially submerged in floodwaters for weeks. While some krewes repaired and removed all traces of these effects, others incorporated flood lines and other damage into the designs of the floats.

Most of the locals who worked on the floats and rode on them were significantly affected by the storm’s aftermath. Many had lost most or all of their possessions, but enthusiasm for Carnival was even more intense as an affirmation of life. The themes of many costumes and floats had more barbed satire than usual, with commentary on the trials and tribulations of living in the devastated city. References included MREsKatrina refrigerators and FEMA trailers, along with much mocking of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local and national politicians.

By the 2009 season, the Endymion parade had returned to the Mid-City route, and other Krewes expanding their parades Uptown.

(Information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 1

The holiday of Mardi Gras is celebrated in Southern Louisiana, including the city of New Orleans. Celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday (the start of lent in the Western Christian tradition). Usually there is one major parade each day (weather permitting); many days have several large parades. The largest and most elaborate parades take place the last five days of the Mardi Gras season. In the final week, many events occur throughout New Orleans and surrounding communities, including parades and balls (some of them masquerade balls).

The parades in New Orleans are organized by social clubs known as krewes; most follow the same parade schedule and route each year. The earliest-established krewes were the Mistick Krewe of Comus, the earliest, Rex, the Knights of Momus and the Krewe of Proteus. Several modern “super krewes” are well known for holding large parades and events, such as the Krewe of Endymion (which is best known for naming celebrities as grand marshals for their parades), the Krewe of Bacchus (similarly known for naming celebrities as their Kings), as well as the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club—a predominantly African American krewe. Float riders traditionally toss throws into the crowds. The most common throws are strings of colorful plastic beads, doubloons (aluminum or wooden dollar-sized coins usually impressed with a krewe logo), decorated plastic “throw cups”, Moon Pies, and small inexpensive toys, but throws can also include lingerie and more sordid items. Major krewes follow the same parade schedule and route each year.

While many tourists center their Carnival season activities on Bourbon Street and in New Orleans and Dauphin, major parades originate in the Uptown and Mid-City districts and follow a route along St. Charles Avenueand Canal Street, on the upriver side of the French Quarter. Mardi Gras day traditionally concludes with the “Meeting of the Courts” between Rex and Comus.


The first record of Mardi Gras being celebrated in Louisiana was at the mouth of the Mississippi River in what is now lower Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, on March 2, 1699.IbervilleBienville, and their men celebrated it as part of an observance of Catholic practice. The date of the first celebration of the festivities in New Orleans is unknown. A 1730 account by Marc-Antione Caillot celebrating with music and dancemasking and costuming (including cross-dressing). [1] An account from 1743 that the custom of Carnival balls was already established. Processions and wearing of masks in the streets on Mardi Gras took place. They were sometimes prohibited by law, and were quickly renewed whenever such restrictions were lifted or enforcement waned. In 1833 Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville, a rich plantation owner of French descent, raised money to fund an official Mardi Gras celebration.

James R. Creecy in his book Scenes in the South, and Other Miscellaneous Pieces describes New Orleans Mardi Gras in 1835:[

Shrove Tuesday is a day to be remembered by strangers in New Orleans, for that is the day for fun, frolic, and comic masquerading. All of the mischief of the city is alive and wide awake in active operation. Men and boys, women and girls, bond and free, white and black, yellow and brown, exert themselves to invent and appear in grotesque, quizzical, diabolic, horrible, strange masks, and disguises. Human bodies are seen with heads of beasts and birds, beasts and birds with human heads; demi-beasts, demi-fishes, snakes’ heads and bodies with arms of apes; man-bats from the moon; mermaids; satyrs, beggars, monks, and robbers parade and march on foot, on horseback, in wagons, carts, coaches, cars, &c., in rich confusion, up and down the streets, wildly shouting, singing, laughing, drumming, fiddling, fifeing, and all throwing flour broadcast as they wend their reckless way.

In 1856 six businessmen gathered at a club room in New Orleans’s French Quarter to organize a secret society to observe Mardi Gras with a formal parade. They founded New Orleans’ first and oldest krewe, the Mystick Krewe of Comus. According to one historian, “Comus was aggressively English in its celebration of what New Orleans had always considered a French festival. It is hard to think of a clearer assertion than this parade that the lead in the holiday had passed from French-speakers to Anglo-Americans. … To a certain extent, Americans ‘Americanized’ New Orleans and its Creoles. To a certain extent, New Orleans ‘creolized’ the Americans. Thus the wonder of Anglo-Americans boasting of how their business prowess helped them construct a more elaborate version than was traditional. The lead in organized Carnival passed from Creole to American just as political and economic power did over the course of the nineteenth century. The spectacle of Creole-American Carnival, with Americans using Carnival forms to compete with Creoles in the ballrooms and on the streets, represents the creation of a New Orleans culture neither entirely Creole nor entirely American.”[

In 1875 Louisiana declared Mardi Gras a legal state holiday.  War, economic, political, and weather conditions sometimes led to cancellation of some or all major parades, especially during the American Civil WarWorld War I and World War II, but the city has always celebrated Carnival.

(information from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Colors Of The Rainbow

Colors Of The Rainbow In Order

Rainbow colors Image source: Wikipedia

The colors of the rainbow in order are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You can remember them with the acronym Roy G Biv!

At one point or another, we have all seen a rainbow. But, although they are fairly common occurrences, it is remarkable how little most people actually know about rainbows.

In fact, most people couldn’t even name the 7 colors of the rainbow in order. If you’ve ever tried closing your eyes and name those colors in the right order, you’d have found that it’s a lot harder than it may seem to get it right.

The most common mnemonic techniques are to either memorize the initials for each color in order (VIBGYOR) or turn it into a name by reversing the order (ROY G BIV).

Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second. – Mattie Stepanek

What Are The 7 Colors of The Rainbow in Order?

The white light that emits from the sun can be broken down into the colors of the rainbow in order:

  • Violet
  • Indigo
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Red

So, just memorizing the first letter of each color is perhaps the best way to remember them.

There is, however, not a universal agreement of this. Most notably, science and science fiction writer and thinking Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) said the following about it:

It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. – Isaac Asimov.

Despite what Asimov said, it seems to have become generally accepted that the colors of the rainbow are seven and that they indeed include the color indigo. This is probably because more ordinary people who look at a rainbow (both directly or a photograph or video recording of one) will be able to see and identify the seven colors.

Color Of The RainbowColor Wavelength (nm)
Violet455 – 390
Blue492 – 455
Green577 – 492
Yellow597 – 577
Orange622 – 597
Red780 – 622

But there’s a lot more to know about the colors of the rainbow other than just the order.

What Is The Origin Of The 7 Colors of the Rainbow?

17th Century English theologian, astronomer, and mathematician, Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1726 or 1627), was the first person to realize that it was possible to see the view all the full-color spectrum by breaking apart white light.

The most natural way to create a prism would be to use raindrops. That is why a great way to observe the visual spectrum is by looking at a rainbow.

Even a quick look at the full-color spectrum makes it evident that the colors are not discrete categories. Looking closely at it, you will notice that each color bleeds into the one next to it.

Image source: Wikipedia

So, the color violet bleeds into the color indigo, the color indigo bleeds into the color blue, the color blue bleeds into the color green, the color green bleeds into the color yellow, the color yellow bleeds into the color orange, and the color orange bleeds into the color red.

What what’s on either side of the spectrum? Ultraviolet or UV is violet’s neighbor and infrared or IR is red’s neighbor.

Because all the colors bleed into each other, settling for seven colors may seem a bit arbitrary. Contemporary observers may not question this, though, because we have accepted that there are seven colors. That’s what we’ve been told so it can be hard to see anything else. But, deciding that there were only seven colors and, therefore, ignoring everything that is “between” each of these colors has very deep historical roots.

What’s The History Behind The 7 Colors of the Rainbow?

The fact that we have settled for 7 colors is no accident. The number 7 has a long history in Western culture.

It all began in Ancient Greece. Back in the 6th century BCE, a mathematician called Pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 BCE) believed that numbers were intricately linked to the real world. For him, numbers weren’t just abstractions but had almost magical qualities.

Image source: Wikipedia

It was Pythagoras the first one to apply numbers to pretty much everything that happens in real life. For example, he discovered that the seven musical notes could also render as mathematical equations (or at least he gets the credit for it).

He observed that most phenomena in nature or, more broadly, in the real world had something to do with the number seven. In Pythagoras’s thought, mathematics and mysticism are combined. Pythagoras’s thought was hugely influential in the Classical world among philosophers.

If you are not sure if any of this is still relevant in the 21st century, just consider how many different concepts are ordered using the number seven, many of which go as far back as the Ancient world.

For example, we still talk about the Seven Wonders of the World, Christians believe in the Seven Daily sins, there were seven dwarfs in the Snow White fairy tale, etc. But not only that, there are also seven days of the week. Everywhere you look, you will see the number seven.

Why Are There 7 Rainbow Colors?

The key fact here is that Isaac Newton was an admirer of not only Pythagoras but also of anyone who was influenced by his thought throughout the years, particularly the likes as Philolaus (c. 470 – c. 385) and, particularly, Copernicus (1473 – 1543).

This influence can be seen in how Newton’s thinking on the full-color spectrum evolved. Initially, the English thinker only saw five colors in the spectrum in the following order: red, yellow, green, blue and purple. He only added orange (between yellow and red) and indigo (between violet and blue) after he considered Pythagoras’s link between music and color.

Because, as Pythagoras thought and has been accepted ever since, there are seven music notes, then there should be seven colors. Obviously, there are more colors than those seven but they are all the result of combining two or more of those main seven colors.

So, as you can see the history why there are seven colors in the rainbow is very complex, very long, and very old. But it is also surprising because it includes elements of math, numerology, and, even, music. Although most people have accepted the seven colors as fact, in Isaac Asimov’s estimation, indigo should be removed and the rainbow should just have six colors. So, can you name the 7 colors of the rainbow in order now?


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Breads on Oak

Nestled on Oak Street, a quaint Uptown hub is Breads on Oak – an artisan vegan bakery. Enjoy all the treats and fun of Mardi Gras with their vegan-friendly, organic king cakes. In addition to traditional cinnamon king cakes, Breads on Oak also offers vegan-friendly cream “cheese” filled, almond cream and praline pecan king cakes. Starting in January, you can pick-up king cakes in store or have them shipped every Wednesday until Mardi Gras day.

Bywater Bakery

Located in the heart of the Bywater, stop by Bywater Bakery for a selection of unique and freshly baked king cakes this Mardi Gras season. Like many others, Bywater Bakery begins its king cake storm Jan. 6. Their array of cakes includes cheesecake filled, chantilly filled, pop rocks incrusted and many more. Shake up your king cake selection this year at Bywater Bakery!

Loretta’s Authentic Pralines

It should come as no surprise that the queen of pralines makes her mark on another legendary New Orleans dessert. Alongside her specialty pralines, beignets, cookies and pies – Ms. Loretta also serves seasonal king cakes. Lemon, cherry and apple-filled cakes are available, but all bets are placed on her praline cream cheese filled king cake. Beginning in December, stop in for a slice or even a whole cake.

Angelo Brocato

For over 100 years, Angelo Brocato’s has made its mark as a local Italian sweet shop offering gelato, cannolis, biscotti and other pastries and treats. With the aid of the Harahan-based Caluda’s King Cakes, Angelo Brocato’s offers up some of the tastiest king cake in the city. Traditional, praline filled, raspberry cream cheese and more are brought from Harahan to Mid-City each and every Mardi Gras season!

This is just a short and very sweet list of must-try king cakes across the city. For more bakeries offering king cake and to learn more about the history and tradition of king cakes in New Orleans, visit

(Information from


While everyone else is beginning to track their new year’s resolutions and saying goodbye to sweets, New Orleans is preparing to welcome back one of their sweetest and most beloved delicacies: King Cake. If this is your first time in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and you’re ready to indulge like a native, check out a few of these places listed below to fulfill your king cake curiosities. Want to bring some of the sweetness home? Check with the individual bakeries, as many will ship king cakes all across the country.

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Manny Randazzo’s King Cakes

Boasted by locals far and wide as the best king cake in the state, Randazzo’s is a Metairie-based bakery dedicated to king cakes and only king cakes. Once the shop opens in mid-December, patrons can expect lines wrapped around the building and down the block for one of their famous king cake creations. You can choose from flavors such as strawberry cream cheese, pecan praline, lemon, apple and more, but most will tell you that the traditional king cake does the trick from Randazzo’s. Won’t be in the city for Mardi Gras? No worries. Order one of Randazzo’s specialty king cakes online with their overnight delivery.

Dong Phuong

Praised by the James Beard Foundation, Food Network and even the New York Times, Dong Phuong is a Vietnamese bakery located in New Orleans East. While they specialize in French bread used to make their signature Banh Mi, this beloved bakery offers king cakes every Mardi Gras season. Each year, beginning January 6, Dong Phuong expands its menu of sweet and savory baked goods to include this New Orleans classic.

Adrian’s Bakery

Known for her treats that offer a “taste of New Orleans,” Adrian’s Bakery offers a selection of their special king cakes year-round. Ask about their double-filled or supreme king cakes so you never have to choose between flavors again! For orders outside of Mardi Gras season make sure to call two days in advance and you can enjoy king cake on any given day of the year.


Voted a fan favorite by the Times-Picayune in 2012 and Best King Cake by a 2011 Washington Post blind taste test, Sucre is a boutique sweet shop known for its decadent and fanciful desserts. Their housemade king cake is no exception to the stellar lineup of treats that they offer. Beginning January 6 of each year, Sucre rolls out their award-winning king cakes for Mardi Gras. Made with Sucre’s signature butter danish, sweetened with cinnamon and raw cane sugar and then baked with a light layer of Creole cream cheese and topped with edible glitter, Sucre’s shimmering king cake is as beautiful as it is delicious.

(Information from