Mardi Gras was one of my favorite times of year growing up. All the years I have lived and visited my home town of New Orleans, I have never been to Mardi Gras World. If I’m honest, I didn’t even know it existed! Mardi Gras World celebrates Mardi Gras year round, continuing to inform people of the its history.
Laissez le bon temps rouler!
Let the good times roll!!!! This statement embodies everything that Mardi Gras is about… good times! Mardi Gras can be traced back to the 17th/18th century. From Europe to the US, Mardi Gras was celebrated by many during that time period. It wasn’t until the early 1740’s that New Orleans celebrated its first Mardi Gras. It consisted of a lavish ball only, a far cry from the festivities that take place today. Nowadays you can find numerous activities taking place during the Mardi Gras holiday. Festivities typically begin at the beginning of January and ending on Shrove or Fat Tuesday.
The best part of Mardi Gras, in my opinion, is the parades. Admiring the detail each Krewe places on their floats. Yelling “Throw me something, mister!!!” for the best throws. And surrounded by people who are “letting the good times roll!”
Throws are items thrown by crew members – doubloons, beads, cups, homemade trinkets, toys, stuffed animals, and coconuts (Zulu).
In 1932, Kern Studios started as a float building company in New Orleans for parades. Since then, Kern Studios has become the premier builder working on Mardi Gras floats year round. During my tour, they were already working on float plans and creations for 2019. In addition to float building, Kern Studios also brings life to creative theming by custom props, advertising, and themed environments. Ever notice the Chic Fil-A cows or props at Disney or Universal. Yup, that’s Kern Studios. One of their many warehouses is located in New Orleans. Mardi Gras World is a 300,000 square foot working warehouse with a gift shop and event center. There are daily tours that you can learn the history of Kern Studios and see how the floats are built or recycled.
Touring Mardi Gras World
I did not realize how much detail and time went into building a parade float. Growing up, I was always in awe of the unique, beautiful floats. If you want to know more about the history of Mardi Gras and how floats are made, I recommend visiting Mardi Gras World. You even get a slice of king cake after the tour and take part of the king cake baby tradition. Whoever has the piece with the baby has to buy the next king cake!!
Here are some of my phots from the tour…
The magic begins here. The designs are uploaded into an imager…
…And pixie (the motorized sculpting arm) creates!
There were huge stacks of styrofaom everywhere.
Caught a worker in the paper mache station before the tour began, she was so helpful.
An actual float used in the Krewe of Orpheus parade.
I could not pass up the emblem of my favorite football team… Go Saints!!
One of the most interesting parts of the tour was the viewing of the Grand Oaks Mansion. The mansion was completely indoors. If you looked up at the ceiling, it resembled a starry night sky. Everything, except the water in the ponds, was completely artificial. Made out of styrofoam and paper mache. All inspired by a man’s vision for a casino that fell through.
Have you ever experienced Mardi Gras? If not, you need to experience it at least once in your life. If not New Orleans, at least one of the many other cities offering up their own version of the festive carnival.
Until next time….