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New Orleans Mardi Gras Parades

Selling Mardi Gras merchandise is much easier if you have the Carnival spirit. There’s no better way to catch the spirit than to be on the parade route. So we’re going to give you some background information and use video to put you at the New Orleans Mardi Gras parades in 2008.

First, how did it all begin? We have to go back nearly 200 years to 1837 when newspaper accounts tell of masked revelers conducting a loosely organized foot parade. It was another twenty years before a group of men met on Royal Street to form the first Krewe in New Orleans, The Mystic Krewe of Comus. That year Comus put on the first parade with a theme and floats.

Rex Captain on White Stallion
Rex Captain on White Stallion

Four years later the Civil War brought an interruption to the celebrations. But the best was yet to come with the formation of Rex in 1872, a Krewe that would shape Mardi Gras’s future. Today Rex, the King of Carnival arrives at the Riverwalk by ship on the night before Mardi Gras, called Lundi Gras. He receives the keys of the city from the mayor and rules no school or work on Mardi Gras Day. The next day the Rex parade rolls down St Charles and Canal Street as the highlight of the Carnival season.

See the Captain on his white stallion, the Boeuf Gras and more on this slideshow video with LSU Marching Band leading off the outstanding parade...

Immediately before Rex comes Zulu. It’s hard to imagine that this extravaganza began as a parody of Mardi Gras royalty in 1909. Some African American laborers poked fun at the pageantry of Mardi Gras Krewes by crowning their own king with a lard can and presented him with a banana stalk as scepter to rule the city. Zulu mushroomed and was the first to have a celebrity king—none other than Louis Armstrong—in 1949. Today Zulu rolls right before Rex as a parade no one wants to miss.

Check out the Zulu Mardi Gras Parade of 2008, with the theme "The World of Legends, Heroes and Folklores":

The weekend before Mardi Gras sees two spectacular parades with Endymion on Saturday and Bacchus on Sunday. These are the super parades that surfaced in the sixties. Endymion started in 1967 and has grown to a “must see” event with tandem floats that reach 100 foot long and a celebrity grand marshal.

Get a close up look at this year's Krewe of Endymion Parade, its first Mid City celebration since Hurricane Katrina:

Bacchus entered the Mardi Gras scene in 1969 with innovative ideas that included using celebrities in place of traditional kings. The parade rolls on Sunday with exciting floats and a chance to see celebrities.

Enjoy the floats of Bacchus 2008 in this next slideshow video featuring Celebrity King, Hulk Hogan.

All together, there are more than 60 parades in the New Orleans area, starting eleven days before Mardi Gras. Revelers line the parade route for each one in a city that never grows tired of Mardi Gras.

See selection of Mardi Gras Beads and Accessories plus a complete selection of Mardi Gras Masks.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans by Arthur Hardy, 2007
Mardi Gras Guide by Arthur Hardy, 32nd Edition, 2008