American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Elsewhere
As you're likely aware from previous posts, I was born and raised in New Orleans – a city known around the world for its annual Mardi Gras celebration. What you might not know, however, is that Mardi Gras doesn't just signify today – Fat Tuesday – but an entire season of revelry and festivity prior to Lent, a four-week schedule of colorful parades throughout the New Orleans area, from Slidell (north of Lake Pontchartrain) to Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans) to the French Quarter itself, culminating in an extended weekend of parades, balls, and parties.
To better understand this unique holiday season – and the way that New Orleanians typically honor it – check out today's post at TheWordWire, which does a pretty good job of explaining the ins and outs of Fat Tuesday. Of course, New Orleans isn't the only city that celebrates this Catholic-inspired season. Venice and Rio de Janeiro have their own lively traditions. But, as someone who's experienced the Venice Carnival firsthand, I still appreciate the family-friendly vibe of Mardi Gras in New Orleans – and the way that this joyous season brings together a city that's seen its share of woe in recent years.
In some ways, this Mardi Gras season has been the best yet. Despite unusually cold temperatures, tourists and residents have come out in droves, crowding the parade routes and filling the French Quarter – even tonight, the last night of the Mardi Gras season, which will technically end at midnight. Of course, many people contribute this unbridled enthusiasm to the New Orleans Saints' stupendous Super Bowl win over the Indianapolis Colts – a much-anticipated event that resulted in the largest crowd I've ever seen on Bourbon Street and that still has residents shouting “Who Dat!” at one another.
Yes, the Saints were very much a part of this year's Mardi Gras celebration. Even before they won the 44th Super Bowl, the city had planned a victory parade for Tuesday, February 9th – during which the entire team (including Coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees, and owner Tom Benson) rode donated Mardi Gras floats and tossed beads to a record number of revelers in downtown New Orleans. In addition, three of the biggest “krewes” of Mardi Gras selected, in lieu of the usual movie or music celebrities, the same three men as their Carnival leaders: Tom Benson was the Grand Marshal of the Krewe of Endymion, which rolled on Saturday; Drew Brees was the King of the Krewe of Bacchus, which rolled on Sunday; and Sean Payton led the Krewe of Orpheus, which rolled last night, on Lundi Gras.
So, in true New Orleans fashion, this year's Mardi Gras season was one to remember – and if you missed it, never fear. There's always next year! Of course, if you can't wait that long, just do what I do – listen to some Mardi Gras tunes (The Meters' “Mardi Gras Mambo” usually does the trick for me) or order yourself a king cake. That'll surely get you in the New Orleans spirit – and if you can't make it to the Big Easy next year, consider a Mardi Gras bash closer to home. Having lived all around the country, I know that Mardi Gras is a popular excuse for a party in several locales, from Chicago's Heaven on Seven to San Francisco's Cajun Pacific Restaurant, so you're bound to get a taste of the merriment somewhere.
In the meantime, you can learn more about the Big Easy's other attractions by consulting Moon New Orleans.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
© 2010 Laura Martone