Mardi Gras comes on the Tuesday immediately before Ash Wednesday. In a narrow band from Mobile, Alabama to Lafayette, Louisiana, including New Orleans, Louisiana, an unusual event is held annually. While Mardi Gras season technically starts on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, the public parades and a few other events really start about a week and a half before the day itself. It is celebrated in a region settled by the Roman Catholic countries of France and Spain, and is the last party before the somber period of Lent. Since it precedes Ash Wednesday, which is fixed by Easter the day changes annually. While a calendar of future Mardi Gras dates is available, there is currently a movement to fix Easter on the calendar which, if it happens, would change future dates.
Mardi Gras: Virtual Participation
Mardi Gras participation is no longer limited to those who can attend in person. Streaming video makes it possible for people worldwide to experience Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the largest of the celebrations in the area. Many people start out early and bring food for a picnic atmosphere. Eventually, the two parades start, and take hours to complete their routes. Costumes are allowed, but not required, and more people do not wear costumes than do. Wearing the colors of purple, green, and gold can be a simple way of looking the part, but it is also not required. And the activity goes on until well into the afternoon. And, it is free.
In addition to the city of New Orleans, there is a major celebration in Metairie, Louisiana, adjacent to the city of New Orleans.
Participation from Your Home
This is such a significant event that the local television affiliates cover the day for hours. There usually are reporters scattered about showing the people, especially those cleverly costumed. Eventually, the coverage is of the parades, Zulu and Rex in New Orleans, and Argus is Metairie.
So, how can you participate? This is important enough that there is a likelihood that one or more of the television stations will stream the coverage. There are several channels that could broadcast streaming video, just look around to find which is streaming when you want to view.
WYES-TV for the meeting of the courts. See the next segment.
The Meeting of the Courts
The Rex parade is during the day, but the ball is at night. Concurrently, the ball for Comus is held across Canal Street. Comus had the night parade, but opted to no longer parade many years ago, so there iss currently no night parade on Mardi Gras Day. Yet, the meeting of the courts, the two kings and queens, is the last of Mardi Gras. By tradition, the Rex court is invited to Comus’s ball, and there is a procession across Canal Street. The four monarchs of carnival toast the gathering with their scepters, and promenade around the floor. This final gesture signals the end of Mardi Gras.
wyes mEETING OF THE cOURTS
The Three Major Parades
Prior to Mardi Gras there are three super-krewes. Yes, krewe is the spelling of a Mardi Gras organization, and is pronounced crew. These have major parties with celebrities after their parades, and the parades go right up to the party. One brings floats into the Superdome. The Saturday parade is Endymion, the Sunday parade is Bacchus, and the Monday parade is Orpheus. These are larger, more elaborate parades, and the parties are open to the public for a fee. These merit special coverage, including the parties. Currently, two female krewes, Muses and Nix, are getting larger parades. Some argue that one or both of these are also super-krewes.
Usually, one or more television stations cover each of these parades. The super-krewe parades are at night, and coverage is usually as the parade ends. Timing viewing is a problem because these large parades have difficulty moving through the streets, so keeping to a schedule is impossible. However, watching streaming coverage is well worth the effort.
New Orleans in on Central Time, and on Mardi Gras Day coverage starts about 10 or 10:30 a. m. The meeting of the courts happens at midnight, but there is coverage of the Rex ball prior to that. Since this is an invitation only ball the only way many can see it is via television. The three super-krewes usually get to the end of their routes between 9 and 10 p. m., although it could be somewhat earlier.
So, wherever you are it is possible to participate in Mardi Gras virtually. The only problem is the time may be less than convenient in your part of the world. And Mardi Gras is not a holiday for most people outside the area.