Mardi Gras History

A Brief History of Mardi Gras:

New Orleans - Throughout the history of Europe there is evidence of the celebration of Mardi Gras. The New Orleans version descended most directly from France. On Mardi Gras, 1699, the French explorer Iberville camped near the mouth of the Mississippi and named the site "Point Mardi Gras." Some adaptation of the Parisian festival was probably introduced to North America shortly after New Orleans was settled in 1718. Under French rule, masked balls and private parties flourished but were later prohibited by the Spanish governors. The ban continued when Creole populace prevailed upon the American governors, and by 1823 balls were again permitted and street masking was legalized in 1827.
Greater New Orleans Tourist & Convention Commission, Inc.

Ark-La-Tex - Early in 1989, Chamber of Commerce President Bob Taylor turned to Cary Petty, Vice President of Business Development, and said, "Cary, Bossier needs a festival or event that it can get behind in a big way." Needless to say, Bob did not realize how seriously Cary took him. At about the same time, Lt. Governor Paul Hardy had released his plans for a statewide promotion called "Open House 1990." Freda Urban suggested, "That Mardi Gras would be successful in our area." Well , as they say, "the rest is history." With the formation of the Krewe of Gemini, committees were formed , logos were designed, throws were ordered, floats were designed, a media party was set, a Mardi Gras Ball was planned for February 17, 1990, and a huge parade featuring twelve Mardi Gras floats took to the streets of Bossier-Shreveport on February 24, 1990. From an idea to reality, Shreveport-Bossier can now claim one of the biggest and, we believe, one of the most successful celebrations in our area. Our thanks to Cary Petty, Freda Urban, and all those many volunteers from both sides of the river who are working so hard to make Mardi Gras in the Ark-LaTex successful.

Religious Significance:

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is always the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. It's a time for parties, parades, balls and celebrations of all kinds before Lenten religious observations begin. Officially, the Carnival Season begins on the Feast of the Epiphany- January 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas. Epiphany celebrates the day the Three Kings visited the Christ Child and recognized Him as the Messiah. A popular Mardi Gras pastry also arrives on the Twelfth Night. Called "King Cakes," these coffeecake type pastries are decorated in Mardi Gras colors and only appear from this day until Mardi Gras Day (although some bakeries now make them available for shipping year round). A tiny plastic doll is baked into the cake, and by tradition, the person who receives the piece of cake with the doll inside must host the next party or bring the next King Cake to the home or office.

All the World Loves a Parade:

Masked revelers on floats, marchers, and horseback riders respond to the age old cry "Throw me something, Mister!" by tossing beads, toys, and trinkets. Doubloons are coins of no monetary value, minted for the Krewe and collected by many. In case you are wondering who catches the bill for costumes, floats, throws and balls, it is the carnival krewe members for themselves and their guests-the thousands of visiting revelers.