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How Mardi Gras brings an air of Love to Louisiana

Lia Portillo Cantarero
Fall in love with Mardi Gras through the green, purple and gold decoration.

Once a year, the whole state of Louisiana comes together to celebrate with balls, parades, food and many more festivities. Beyond the beads, Mardi Gras brings communities together and spreads love in a way that is unique to Louisiana.
Mardi Gras, a French term for ‘Fat Tuesday’, may be known to people out of the state as just a festival to drink, but the origins of Mardi Gras date back to the 18th century, and it ties in Louisiana’s rich French history. While different parts of the states celebrate in different ways, it brings out the love for our state, culture, traditions and each other.

In South Louisiana, or more specifically Southwest Louisiana, when Mardi Gras starts on the Twelfth Night, along comes plans for parades, parties and chicken runs. Most towns in the parish work together so that the parades are on different days, so that residents can enjoy as much Mardi Gras as they want to.

On a parade day, all the floats line up early in the morning to get ready for the run, which is where the floats drive around the town and celebrate before lining up for the parade. This is also when the drinking and partying starts for most riders.

Floats are run by Krewes, which all have their own traditions, members and costumes. Members have loyalty and love towards their Krewe and spend weeks preparing for the Mardi Gras season by buying throws, outfits and drinks. Members also pay fees to help pay for the float, the parade entry fees and many other things. They do this so that their community can come together and celebrate Mardi Gras with a parade, music and fun.

The parade isn’t always floating though, it can also include horses, ATVs and four wheelers and sometimes even people walking and dancing on foot. Dance teams, bands and cheer squads often come to perform in their town’s parade route, as another way to spread love for their town and showcase their skills.

After the parade is usually when the chicken runs happen, which is where a chicken is released in a fenced off area, and whoever is first to catch it wins a prize. This event is usually meant for children, as a way for them to get involved in Mardi Gras since most parade floats are adults only because of the drinking and safety issues. Once the chicken is caught, it is then brought back to whoever’s farm it belongs to.

Mardi Gras balls are also another very important part of the season and are popular across the state. For some Krewes, courts are picked out of the members, where they are honored at the ball and on the float. The balls are a chance for members of the Krewe to dress up, come together and dance and eat good food.

King Cake is my favorite part of Mardi Gras, and every Louisiana resident will have a different opinion on where to get the best king cake. Buried somewhere within the king cake is a small baby, and whoever gets the piece with the baby will have the chore of purchasing the king cake for the next get together. It is a fun tradition and way to bond over food. Mardi Gras is about coming together to spread joy.

Mardi Gras is also great for small businesses who sell king cakes, Mardi Gras costumes, throws for the parade and much more. It gives residents a way to show off their unique talents and make money during the season. Lots of tourists come to Louisiana, especially areas like New Orleans, to delve into Mardi Gras and learn what it is all about. This tourism helps the economy and shops in these towns and cities, and introduces Mardi Gras and its traditions to people from other states.

At the core of Mardi Gras is the love for Louisiana, and people come together to celebrate that every year. Louisiana would be lackluster without its deep history and unique traditions. Next time you see that purple, green and gold, think about what your life would be without Mardi Gras.

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About the Contributors
Destin Lopez, Current Sauce - Viewpoints Editor
Destin Lopez is a senior communication major, with a minor in pre-law and paralegal studies at NSU. She is currently the 2023 Viewpoints editor of the Current Sauce. She has had a love for writing and design since highschool, where she spent two years as the Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook. Destin is excited to share her stories to NSU and Natchitoches, and is hoping to leave a mark with her writing.
Lia Portillo Cantarero, Current Sauce - Editor-in-Chief
Lia Portillo Cantarero is a junior communication major. This is her third year in The Current Sauce and as Editor-in-Chief she hopes to raise awareness around the stories that are happening in the campus community. For Lia, becoming the Editor-in-Chief has been a dream and she is honored to carry the legacy of The Current Sauce forward.

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