Mardi Gras

Krewe of Endymion Parade 2015 New Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is something everyone should experience at least once. But if you've been put off by images of debauchery and Bourbon Street, here's something you need to know: that's NOT Mardi Gras.

Contrary to public perception, Mardi Gras is a family celebration. Carnival season is a time to let loose and enjoy life: listen to great music, eat delicious food, spend time with family and friends. Above all its a time to laugh a lot and have fun! For local New Orleanians it's time to go to some parades!!!

Locals often watch parades in the same spot each year.

Families and groups of friends bring folding chairs, tables, blankets, ice chests, ladder seats for children, and even tents, couches, and grills to the parade.

It’s essential to costume, so that you are a participant and not just a spectator.

Flambeau Carrier

Flambeau (meaning flame-torch) was originally a carrier that served as a light for New Orleans parade goers to better enjoy the spectacle of night festivities. Before electricity and gas street lights it was so dark at night they would carry torches and dance along the side of the floats so the spectators could see the floats. The first flambeau carriers were slaves and were the only illumination for the night parades. Their job became obsolete when the floats themselves began to use electricity and later even fiber optics in their designs. Because of tradition, parade organizers have slowly brought them back to light parades during Carnival. Now they carry a propane tank harnessed to their back and lead the procession of floats. It is tradition when the flambeau carriers pass to toss quarters to them in thanks for carrying the lights of Carnival, though in these days handing dollar bills is also common.

At parades, it helps to know the rhythms—up for the floats, back for the bands.

There's a small town feeling of families celebrating together, breaking out their picnics and folding chairs to view this enormous spectacle.

Purple, Green and Gold- These colors became synonymous with Mardi Gras in 1892, when Rex, the King of Mardi Gras, declared this to be the color scheme of Carnival. Purple is said to symbolize justice, while gold symbolizes power, and green symbolizes faith.

Mardi Gras isn't a spectator sport. You don't sit back and watch the parade roll by - - you become part of the celebration and part of the tradition with each string of beads you catch.

Does it help to have pink hair?? YES!!!

As Day turns to Night... The floats keep coming...

The heart and soul of New Orleans is on full and glorious display during Carnival.

Carnival is a time of celebration that brings people of all backgrounds together to showcase what is wonderful and unique about New Orleans.

Photos by: Eileen Romero Instagram @iluvnola2

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