Mardi Gras history

Mardi Gras history begins in 1699, when the celebration was brought to the United States by French settlers. The settlers used the parties to establish trading and New Orleans as a major port city, and the celebrations have continued since. The oldest continuously active organization in Mardi Gras history, the Mystick Crew of Comus, held its first parade in 1857.

Major events have had an impact on Mardi Gras history. War, especially the Civil War and World War II, weather conditions, and economic and political circumstances has, more than once, led to the cancellation of the parades. In 1972, big parades were prohibited from New Orleans' old French Quarter due to safety concerns brought on by large floats and crowds. In 1979 the police department of New Orleans went on strike, and many of the parades were cancelled. The rest of the parades were moved to surrounding cities.

The most recent event potentially affecting Mardi Gras history was Hurricane Katrina of 2005. Because of the city's location, there was major flooding, and most of the city was under water. There was a mass evacuation, and a major post-hurricane cleanup. The city's government called for a scaled-back version of Mardi Gras for 2006 to limit the tension on the services of the city, because they were, more or less, bankrupt. As of the writing of this article, there is a schedule for Mardi Gras 2006, but parades are restricted to certain areas, and curfews are in place for the purposes of safety.

The Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, and Mardi Gras itself is always 47 days before Easter. The official Mardi Gras colors are purple, green, and gold, chosen by the King of Carnival of 1872. Beads and toys have been thrown from floats at Mardi Gras parades since the late 19th century.