Despite being one of the years in which carnival has fallen carnival later in the calendar , the weather was the main character of the Mardi Gras parades called Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, where the city celebrates the last day before the beginning of Lent. The usual procession of floats and marching bands remained lackluster in part this year due to the rain and bitter cold. In fact, this year’s parade was just one record away from registering as the coldest mardi gras in history. The record, set back on February 14, 1899 was 22 degrees.
But the inclement weather was no deterrent as thousands of people attended this procession each year and the usual colorful and festive images on this classic tradition of New Orleans, which has its origins in the French colonial legacy of the eighteenth century from recurring. The first parade was held in 1857 and Fat Tuesday was declared a holiday by the state of Louisiana in 1875.
Other neighboring cities on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico celebrate carnivals similar but none come close to the size of New Orleans, where the tradition has not only persisted but has adapted to the idiosyncrasies and historical footprint . New Orleans was a city of slaves, so race and cultural identity have always played an essential role in its history. No surprise, therefore, that the hundred mardi gras floats, parading five miles along the St. Charles Avenue, the most popular ones are those of the black and white kings throwing, respectively, to the public coconuts painted and lucky coins. This year also, the black protest caravan has had a touch, with a picture hung on the front in honor of the late South African president Nelson Mandela.
But Mardi Gras goes beyond these two most famous kings. Variety is absolute: all types of parade floats, horses, marching bands and dance performances. And as a common thread they all shared the cheerful attitude, fun, and colorful costumes and masks. As usual, the conclusion this year came from some famous faces, as the sister of singer Beyoncé, Solange Knowles, or filmmaker Quentin Tarantino.