Louisiana Mardi Gras

I’ve had a request for a little more information about the kinds of costumes we wear during Louisiana Mardi Gras. I thought I’d share a couple of photos taken at my part time workplace, Sew What Embroidery and Screenprinting.

In southern Louisiana, there are several things you can expect during Mardi Gras season.

1. There will be a lot of parades. There’s at least one local parade in most of the small towns. There might even be two! Many towns are now hosting a children’s parade which is geared more towards family friendliness than gigantic crazy partiness. In Eunice, the children’s parade happens on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. The children who wish to participate must wear traditional costumes. On the day of Mardi Gras, if you live in the country, you may see Le Courir de Mardi Gras (The Running of the Mardi Gras). This consists of a group of people who walk a specific route to gather ingredients and money from the locals to provide for the community gumbo and boucherie…hog butchering. Once the hog is butchered, many things are made for the community to eat together. Country Mardi Gras costumes consist of a pair of pants and a shirt with multi-colored fringe adorning at least the sleeves and the down the side of the pants. You can add as much fringe as you like, and traditionally, bells are added to the costumes, as well. Some of the krewe members wear screen masks and tall cone-shaped hats. The screens are usually painted to look like different kinds of faces. Country costumes look something like this…

These fringed pants are one style of country Mardi Gras costume many locals wear during the holiday. These were made at Sew What E & S.

These fringed pants are one style of country Mardi Gras costume many locals wear during the holiday. These were made at Sew What E & S.

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This fully fringed shirt and pants country Mardi Gras set, in the traditional purple/green/gold colors, was created at Sew What E & S. It is modeled by the customer it was made for and one of the seamstresses who put it together stands on the left. Fabulous, isn’t it?

2. On the day of Mardi Gras, you will see many floats in the parades. In New Orleans, many of the floats are used year after year and there are people assigned to take special care of them. These are the crewes. A krewe is a group of people who are responsible for taking care of their float, who ride on that float during the parade wearing eye-catching costumes and tossing beads and other nifty things to parade-goers. Many people wear football helmets since there are people who throw entire bags of beads to the crowds! The people who get to wear the most fabulous costumes are the Kings and Queens of the krewes and their attendants. There are two types of costumes. Float Rider Costumes are made to catch the eye. The krewes we make costumes for have these costumes made with sparkling fabric, either with sequin dots or hologram patterns. Sometimes the costumes are are multi-colored. Sometimes, they consist of two colors. It’s sufficient to say, the sky’s the limit on the variety of float rider costumes, as long as it catches the eyes of the crowd! Float rider costumes go along with the theme of the float and are the same year after year. Royalty costumes are special and usually go along with the theme chosen by the krewe in some vague way. They must be set apart. They are, after all, royalty!  And Attendant Costumes are themed according to what the krewe decided for the year. You can click this link to see some examples of a Krewe’s royalty and attendants and there are other photo links you can explore on that site, too.

Krewe of Napoleon 2014 photo gallery

In New Orleans, there are several parades with the most famous parade being the Bacchus parade. Click here to see a photo gallery of the festivities in 2011.

For more information about the history of Louisiana Mardi Gras, you can click here. Tomorrow, I’ll try to share some photos from the festivities in Eunice. We won’t see the parade but there are many other things going on during Mardi Gras and people will be wearing their costumes, which is the part I find most interesting.

We are more inclined to regret our virtues than our vices; but only the very honest will admit this.”  ~Holbrook Jackson

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