Mardi Gras: A Celebration of Art and Tradition

Mardi Gras: A Celebration of Art and Tradition

Feb 3, 2016


Bourbon Street S3543

Bourbon Street Backdrop – S3543


With eager anticipation of Mardi Gras and the inspiration of our newly painted New Orleans backdrop, Grosh started digging around in the history of this celebration.  This unique tradition has cultivated a society in New Orleans that paints the town in history and pride.

New Orleans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. By the 1730’s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly, but not with the parades we know today.  In the early 1740’s, Louisiana’s governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil established elegant society balls, which became the model for the New Orleans balls of today.  In 1872 a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival, Rex, to preside over the first daytime parade.  This parade was to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff.  The businessmen presented the colors of Romanoff’s family: purple, green and gold; with purple representing justice, gold representing power and green representing faith.  These colors would officially become the colors of Mardi Gras and most notably the historical and infamous, Bourbon Street.

Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street have become synonymous since the street’s establishment in 1798.  This monumental street sits at the heart of the French Quarter extending 13 blocks from Canal St. to Esplanade Avenue.  History buffs will want to make sure to visit the only National Landmark on Bourbon Street, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, named after the notorious pirate, Jean Lafitte. This landmark is also one of the few original French structures to survive the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788. Bourbon Street’s architecture and dynamic atmosphere are just part of the reason why it’s so famous.  Embedded in all the excitement is a taste of true American history.

In 1875, Louisiana’s governor signed the “Mardi Gras Act,” making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in New Orleans.  Mardi Gras celebrations are part of the basis of the slogan, “Laissez les bons temps rouler” or  “Let the good times roll”. Since all of the organizations that produce the Mardi Gras parades and celebrations are funded by their members, the day has been dubbed, “The Greatest Free Show on Earth!”