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Feb. 27, 1827: First Mardi Gras in New Orleans

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Feb. 27, 1827: First Mardi Gras in New Orleans

The Rex pageant on Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 1907. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Around 800,000 people will descend on New Orleans for Mardi Gras this weekend through Fat Tuesday on March 4. They’ll be there to party, participate in parades, and celebrate the holiday. But, it wasn’t always like this.

Feb. 27, 1827 is considered the first Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans when a group of masked students danced through the streets. The Carnival season marks the time from Twelfth Night to Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday, when Lent begins. Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations made their way to New Orleans with French settlers but were banned by Spanish governors in the 1700s. After Louisiana became part of the U.S., laws banning masks and dancing in the streets were rescinded.

After the first students held the first party and parade in 1827, the celebrations got more and more popular, with a rich plantation owner hosting an official Mardi Gras party in 1833. By the 1850s, the parties had become so raucous and violent, there were calls to ban them.

Today there is no “official” Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but a number of famous and popular parades run through town. Just don’t let a con man try to sell you tickets to the “greatest free show on Earth!” More information available at: www.mardigrasneworleans.com

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