Mardi Gras

Tom Welch
Service Article(revised)

IT\'S MARDI GRAS!!!!! Yes, New Orleans\' famous Carnival season is this years\' never-ending party and you\'re invited. Mardi Gras, famous for its colorful and cultural parades, is an experience you can\'t go any longer w/out! The Streets are packed with both tourists and Native Louisianans as they celebrate Mardi Gras in full color and sound. . The Huge Parades come flashing down the street we fresh music, an explosion of lights, and spectacular floats. Everyone is having a great time, enjoying the festivities of the parade. So you\'re new to Mardi Gras, but don\'t want to act like it? Here in brief, are the basic facts about Americas\' greatest party.
Carnival season begins on January sixth while the actual date of Mardi Gras varies every year. Mardi Gras Day is the "Fat Tuesday" before Ash Wednesday and Lent. Ok, you will need to know a bit about its\' history. The origin of Mardi Gras can be traced back to Rome in the middle ages w/ the welcoming of Spring. In 1872, the appearance of Rex as the King of Mardi Gras brought about the presentation of Carnivals\' colors, flag and anthem. The colors of Mardi Gras are purple , gold, and green. While they were probably chosen simply because they looked good together, a meaning was assigned to each of them by King Rex. Purple represents "justice", Green stands for "faith", and Gold signifies "power". A group known in the 1830\'s as the Comus organization established several Mardi Gras traditions such as the word "Krewe" which is the name for the parades members. Comus also chose
mythological names for the Parades for more of a rich tradition. Many of the Popular Parades are named after Greek Gods such as Bacchus, Orpheus, Endymion, and even the African parade, Zulu.
Nowadays, the actual Parades are organized mainly of large colorful floats pulled by tractors or Mack trucks. These floats are usually two stories with large statues and decorations, telling the story of each floats theme. Parades also consist of Marching bands, ROTC/Color Guards, Radio Stations vehicles, and even policemen. The Krewe of the float are dressed in mask and costume for their float. The average Krewe member might spend around three to four hundred dollars on beads and such. While beads and pearls are the main catches, there are many other things to be caught at parade, so bring a bag. Cups are thrown at random with the parades theme designed on them. Doubloons which are aluminum coin-like objects bearing the Krewe\'s insignia on one side and the parades theme on the reverse. You can see the sparkling of the coins in the air and there\'s that all too familiar "ding-ding" sound when they hit the street. You can see the crowd bending over to look for them on the ground. Little toys and stuffed animals are some of the many little trinkets thrown about. Of course there is always some one waving around colorful underwear to give out to the deserving fan.
For someone new to Mardi Gras, you must first simply relax and have fun. It is a time for families to bring the kids out for some fun and celebration. The local Newspaper will have listings of the daily parades. For the younger kids, going to any of the Day-Time parades is best. The streets are packed w/ cleverly costumed paraders, marching bands, music, and thousands of people. It\'s good to get there early to grab a spot to set up since the good spots tend to disappear quickly. Waiting for the parade to make it to your area can be tedious, so brink some food and chairs. Sun block would be a good idea as well, it may be sunny out there. When the floats arrive they will be tossing hundreds of beads, cups, doubloons, and little toys overboard into the streets. Since there are so many people in the crowd, you should try to get the "Krewe\'s" attention. Many people bring ladders w/ seats built on top for their children to sit on. Or perhaps a sign to get the Krewe members to notice you. Hopefully they will toss you the best of what they have to throw. Or you can simply do