All of America has Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July. But only New Orleans has the one and only world-famous Mardi Gras. The 2016 installment was a massive success.
You can find Mardi Gras celebrations elsewhere – Australia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, to name a few – but the celebration held annually and culminating the day before Ash Wednesday in New Orleans is the one by which all the others are judged.
Fat Tuesday, as the biggest celebration day is called, happened this year on February 9. That day and the days leading up to it are known as Parade Season, and this year, for the first time in recent memory, not a single parade was rained on.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu praised the efforts of the New Orleans Police Department, the many Carnival krewes that participated, city employees and the general public for making Mardi Gras 2016 an outstanding experience.
In a press release several days after the event, Landrieu said, “Mardi Gras is the single event that transmits the authenticity of New Orleans to the world. We come together each year to do something better than anyone else and that is to celebrate the biggest free show on earth. This year’s Carnival was a huge success.”
Mardi Gras 2016 highlights
· 819 floats in Orleans Parish was an all-time high.
· The most-anticipated parades were all they were expected to be: the Nyx parade, with 2,200 riders, and Endymion’s 50th anniversary procession.
· There was no Grela parade this year, but parades in Metairie and St. Tammy’s Parish enjoyed more participation and a higher turnout than usual.
· We saw a lot more interest in specialty throws this year, with throws of doubloons, cups and plain beads not quite as popular.
· Jazz great Pete Fountain, 84, rode in his Half-Fast Walking Club parade to the delight of many fans.
· A riderless horse paid tribute to the late Captain Beau Bassich in the Krewe of Proteus parade.
· 86,000 pounds of beads were collected for recycling by Arc of Greater New Orleans
One of the things that makes the parades and celebrations of Mardi Gras special is that there’s something enjoyable for people of all ages. Yes, it’s party time for many, but for families and young people there are plenty of ways to have a super-great time without resorting to excess. Overall, it’s a safe way to spend a few days leading up to Lent, which begins the Wednesday after Fat Tuesday.
In 2017, Fat Tuesday is on February 28. If you’re not from New Orleans or its outlying cities and towns, maybe you should pay us a visit and see what this unbelievable celebration is all about.
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