New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies, with signature painted faces, in the 2012 Zulu parade
Baby Dolls

Baby Dolls

The Baby Dolls of New Orleans are renowned not only for their dancing and attire but their commitment to preserving an iconic tradition that has been uplifting and empowering women for more than a century.

Party Hounds on Parade

Party Hounds on Parade

Tapping a Hollywood costume designer to create Medieval regalia for canines participating in the Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade with the theme “Joan of Bark.”

Royal DisemBARKation

Royal DisemBARKation

If Rex and Zulu can arrive at the riverfront with ceremonial fanfare, as a prelude to their moment in the sun, why not the canine Queen of Barkus?

Mardi Gras Dictionary and Terminology

Mardi Gras Dictionary and Terminology

Who is The Lord of Misrule? What does the word “krewe” have to do with the poetry of John Milton? Why are go-cups popular throws? And what does a spyboy mean when he hollers “Humbah!” If these questions seem puzzling, it’s time to bone-up on some Mardispeak.

Children of the Realm

Children of the Realm

Despite its reputation for bawdy excess, Mardi Gras is still in many ways a family event with much to offer to stir young imaginations.

Parties and Balls

Parties and Balls

While “society” Carnival balls are private affairs for krewe members and their invited, formally attired guests, some krewe fêtes — including post-parade “extravaganzas” staged by Endymion, Orpheus and Tucks — are accessible to non-members. Costuming or fancy dress, drinking and dancing, live music, frivolity and pretend royalty are all key ingredients in the common quest to let pleasure rule.

Parade Ladders

Parade Ladders

Step ladders with seats attached are a favorite way to provide kids with a prime parade perch and help them snag lots of throws.

Flashing for Beads

Flashing for Beads

As flashing for beads has evolved into a Mardi Gras pastime, “Show your tits!” has become as much a part of the lexicon as “Throw me something, mister!” But those inclined to revel in the risqué should be mindful of the fact that what was once a spontaneous and casual...

Throw Me Something Mister!

Throw Me Something Mister!

In the heat of the moment, the perceived value of the exotic bounty tossed from parade floats cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Because it cannot be bought, only bestowed and won, it is, in a sense, priceless.The quest for beaucoup booty at Mardi Gras A...

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club

With a style all its own, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club early on dispensed with scripted decorum in favor of freewheeling irreverence expressed through a parody of stereotypes of Blacks in minstrelsy traditions, wacky takes on an African jungle theme, and...

Black Masking Indians

Black Masking Indians

Once shrouded in secrecy, with little interest in sharing their traditions with the outside world, Black Masking Indians, also known as Mardi Gras Indians, have become celebrated icons whose music draws Grammy nominations and whose history and folkways command serious...

North Side Skull and Bone Gang

North Side Skull and Bone Gang

These maskers, dressed as skeletons and wielding scary-looking spears and large bones, wake up the Tremé neighborhood on Mardi Gras morning with a warning: Get your act together before it’s “too late.” They evoke the literal meaning of Carnival — farewell to the flesh...

Mardi Gras Music History

Mardi Gras Music History

The nexus between Carnival and music reflects the festive, let-the-good-times-roll culture of the Crescent City, where parading and dancing have long been obsessions. The seasonal spirit and its accompanying soundtrack conspire to prompt revelers to shed inhibitions...

What it’s all About

What it’s all About

Everybody knows that Mardi Gras is a time to frolic and have fun, to cut loose — to throw down, as they say in the Big Easy. But what about the trappings and traditions — the masks, beads, king cake and mock royalty; the ubiquitous purple, green and gold? Aren’t these...

Local Color

Local Color

New Orleanians are known for their almost religious devotion to traditions, and the rituals and customs surrounding Mardi Gras are no exception.

All things Mardi Gras in New Orleans