Did you know that Mardi Gras has been cancelled 13 times? The first Mardi Gras celebration actually took place in 1699 when the French arrived in what would become New Orleans. They named their landing spot Point du Mardi Gras. When Spain took control of New Orleans Mardi Gras was banned. This continued until Louisiana became a U.S. State in 1812. In 1857 a secret society of businessmen calling themselves the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized marching bands and floats by torch light to celebrate Mardi Gras. This set the tone that continues to this day.
Wars, sickness and strikes, oh my!
There were no parades between 1861 and 1865 during the Civil War although indoor celebrations were still held. Again, in 1875, political unrest cancelled the whole Carnival season! Ironically, that same year the state declared Mardi Gras a legal holiday. Louisiana remains the only state that recognizes it as such. In 1879, the yellow fever outbreak in New Orleans cancelled the parades. That year, the Krewe of Comus gave its parade money to feed the sick and hungry of the city.
Resilience in the Face of Adversity
Both World Wars affected Mardi Gras, from 1918-1919 and again from 1942-1945. In 1951 there was a fire that destroyed the Rex Krewe’s float. So they with other Krewes decided not to have a parade due to both the fire and the beginning of the Korean War. The last cancellation occurred in 1979 with a strike by the New Orleans Police Department. Some Krewes did parade outside the city but most did not. As you can see, many different reasons have cancelled festivities but the one that might come to mind first, hurricanes, it not one of them. Surprisingly, no Mardi Gras celebrations have been cancelled due to hurricanes although Katrina in 2005 was touch and go for a while.
Mardi Gras is a wonderful time to visit the city. There are plenty of family activities to experience during the season. You can find out more about this year’s parade schedule at Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide. Book a tour with The Savvy Native while you’re in town. We specialize in the rich history of New Orleans and would love to show you around!
The Savvy Native is a group of experienced local tour guides who were either born in New Orleans or wish they had been.
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