Mardi Gras in the Big Easy
Carnival in New Orleans
New Orleans Mardi Gras Float - Photos Courtesy of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau - Photographer Jeff Strout
Regardless of its sheer overwhelming size, Mardi Gras in New Orleans can be, and is, different things to different people. If your intent is to party, you’ll find that there. If you just want to go and watch, have at it. If you want to take family, or visit at another time of year, there’s plenty to do to keep everyone engaged.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a larger than life, living, breathing event. For many it is the coup de gras of parties. And that’s just fine. The city is ready for that. But to the locals of New Orleans, it is important to remember that Mardi Gras (as it is through much of the Gulf Coast) is much more than just a wild party. It is a much needed relief valve that still fulfills the pre-Lent celebratory purpose that was Carnival's original intent.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, many people from outside of Louisiana decried the decision to hold New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations as usual in February 2006. What most outsiders fail to grasp is that for New Orleanians Mardi Gras 2006 offered the victims of Katrina an opportunity to put the devastation behind them for a short period of time. For many it was considered to be a much needed time of healing.
Though New Orleans is widely referred to as “ The Big Easy”, the origins of this nickname remain shrouded in mystery. Some attribute the name to the city’s reputation as an easy place for musicians to find work during the early 20th century. Still others site author James Conaway’s early 1970s novel of the same name as being responsible for the city nickname switching from Crescent City to The Big Easy.
But regardless of how it came about, New Orleans is known as The Big Easy, and the generous and friendly locals have asumed that persona with the easy grace of the mighty river that flows through their city.
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