The World of Mardi Gras in Louisiana

In many parts of the world, just prior to the start of Lent, people celebrate Mardi Gras. It’s a time to show off, to dance, to flirt and drink to excess before practising fasting and penance during the Lenten period.

The world’s best Mardi Gras is said to occur annually in Rio de Janeiro, although there are other places where it is also celebrated with the same kind of exuberance. One of those places is New Orleans, which also has a rich history. Mardi Gras is also celebrated in southwest Louisiana, particularly around Lake Charles, where you will find the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu.

Mardi Gras began in Lake Charles in 1882 when Momus, King of Mardi Gras, landed his royal yacht at the foot of Pujo Street. The language of Mardi Gras can be quite confusing, but this is basically what happens: These annual events are organised by krewes, who are responsible for organising the parades and masked costume balls. These krewes are a type of mystic society, and each Krewe has its own elaborate crest which is featured on members’ costumes and is also prominently featured on the krewes’ parade float. Mardi Gras parades always have decorated floats, marching bands and krewe members throwing beads, doubloons and other trinkets. Given that there are more than 50 krewes involved in the celebrations, parades can take a long time to pass any particular point.

The costumes worn by participants often take a year to make, and can weigh as much as 50 pounds. The term `Mardi Gras’ means Fat Tuesday and falls between Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) and Ash Wednesday, the first official day of Lent. Celebrating for Mardi Gras in Lake Charles actually begin on January 6 each year, or the Twelfth Night, in which the revelry starts, culminating in the parade on Fat Tuesday.

The Mardi Gras Museum allows you to experience the celebration at all times of the year and boasts having more Mardi Gras costumes in one place than anywhere else in the world.

Learn about the history of Mardi Gras as you walk through the halls with towering and glittering costumes. View how to make a King Cake, as well as the intricacies of costume making. There is even a float that patrons can climb aboard.

The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu is located inside the School of Arts and Humanities Centre and is open from Tuesday until Fridays from 1pm until 5pm.

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