carnival

Mardi Gras is about ephemera, the thrill of the chase. In New Orleans, that's cajoling a strand of special glass beads or a glittered coconut from the hands of a stranger high up on a parade float. But the moment that trinket is nabbed, the recipient might think: Now what am I going to do with this?

Cajun Mardi Gras, however, in the small towns south and west of New Orleans, raises no such question. Because what you aim to catch is very useful. And edible.

It's a squawking, flapping live chicken.

Loyola University

This week on Inside the Arts, Loyola University hosts Mardi Gras Forum: The Women of Carnival. The popular forum will explore women's contributions and importance to Mardi Gras. It will feature leaders from several female Carnival krewes. We talk with Jim Gabour, Loyola professor of Video Technology.

Mardi Gras Forum: The Women of Carnival takes place on Monday, February 9 at Loyola University's Nunemaker Auditorium, 3rd floor of Monroe Hall at 4:45 p.m.  It is free and open to the public.

Ian McNulty

Some of the city's old-guard restaurants hold heralded places in Carnival tradition, and king cakes have been glittering extra brightly lately as chefs and bakers around New Orleans put their own stamp on its form and flavors.   

But, when it comes to keeping people going through the long haul of Carnival, the heavy lifting often falls to much more humble fare from unsung suppliers. These are the grocery stores, the delis and the specialty caterers of New Orleans, businesses that work at fever pitch once the parade season reaches its prime time. 

Andy Levin

Carnival is the season for flipping life on its head — a time when it’s natural to see people wearing wigs, boas, wings and beads. On Mardi Gras day, men dressed in suits made of feathers? Totally normal. And women dressed like little girls — in bloomers, short satin skirts and bonnets? Totally normal too, and part of a long, subversive tradition.

Eve Abrams shares this history of the Baby Dolls, who break race and gender barriers, all on a Mardi Gras day.

Kim Vaz is a dean at Xavier University. She literally wrote the book on Baby Dolls.

Ian McNulty


Kim Welsh

 This week on Inside the Arts, the first parades of 2015 are ready to roll!

A medieval-themed procession gears up to march in the French Quarter. The Joan of Arc Parade rolls on 12th Night, celebrating the 603rd birthday of the Maid of Orléans, France.

Then, the Phunny Phorty Phellows have their sights set on Carnival, as they prepare for their traditional ride on the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar line this Twelfth Night. And, we round out with the addition of two new pieces of art in NOMA's Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. 

The countdown to Mardi Gras is under way in New Orleans.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu planned to note the beginning of the Carnival season with a news conference today. It's planned at a riverside warehouse where many of the floats for Carnival parades are on display.

And revelers known as the Phorty Phunny Phellows scheduled their annual streetcar ride through town tonight. It's a decades-old tradition marking the 12th night after Christmas and the official start of the season.

Mardi Gras falls on February 17 this year.

bird flew / Flickr

The Biloxi City Council is considering an ordinance, based on a similar ordinance used in New Orleans, that would protect people riding on floats and marching in parades from throw-backs by spectators.

The Sun Herald reports a first reading of an ordinance came Tuesday without comment. Council President Kenny Glavan later said that he's had a couple of krewes ask for the protection.

The ordinance says people sometimes throw beads and other items back on the floats where participants are occupied, potentially injuring them.

anthony posey / Flickr

The Advocate reports that a federal hearing Monday may show who’s legally entitled to use the Zulu Mardi Gras krewe’s name on Facebook.

Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club Inc. filed suit against a former associate member for trademark infringement. The lawsuit says the man set up a “Zulu Mardi Gras” Facebook page, and used club trademarks without permission in an attempt to sell invitations to the Zulu Mardi Gras ball, spots on a Zulu float, and one of the club’s coveted coconut throws.

Storyville: When Jesters Have Their Day

Feb 20, 2014
Adam Karlin

The guy next to me is wearing an orange fur coat and a red feather boa; his wife is dressed as a giant grape. Someone playing the trumpet looks like a cross between a post office employee and a Mad Max road warrior. I'm wearing an inflatable alligator on my head.

This is the Bayou Boat parade, which happens on Lundi Gras, the Monday before Fat Tuesday. It's simple: folks get in boats and have an aquatic second line up Bayou St John. Anyone can join, as long as they have a floatable water craft. Or not so floatable; the trombone player's kayak is starting to list.

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