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L’aissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll! There’s a reason New Orleans is known as the Big Easy and part of it is that we know how to throw a great party!
Though the first Mardi Gras took place in Louisiana in 1699, carnival clubs or “krewes” didn’t begin forming until the early 1870s. Among the oldest of these social clubs, Rex and Zulu continue to be the backbone of the celebrations, throwing elaborate balls and parades to commemorate the Lenten Season. What was once exclusive to only a select few, the long-established custom has expanded with new krewes forming all the time, enriching the experience for locals and tourists alike. Though Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday,” it spans an entire season of revelry leading up to that day!
Citing over three hundred carefully researched sources, Native New Orleanian Rosary O’Neill (co-author of New Orleans Voodoo: A Cultural History) explores the roots of the krewe tradition, beginning with the antebellum era and tracing its effect on the wild celebrations of the present day.