The opening parade January 31 for the 2015 New Orleans Mardi Gras season by the Krewe du Vieux maintained the traditional small scale donkey or man-power drawn floats but was LARGER THAN LIFE in political satire mixed with “adult themes.”
The Krewe du Vieux is the ONLY major parade that actually can go through the French Quarter.
As you’ll see over the next 2 weeks, the parades are “monumental.” BTW: some of pics in costume are just people viewing the parade, not participants – but in New Orleans, everyone’s a “participants”
Mardi Gras World is a living museum for an international festival as celebrated as it’s misunderstood. Daily public tours showcase a wide range of Mardi Gras themes from the ribald to down home family friendly. And while a guest is snapping photos and listening to the guide, Kern Studio artists are busy in the real work of creating Mardi Gras 2015.
Fat Tuesday falls on February 17th this year (2015) but in New Orleans, Mardi Gras season begins on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, January 6, which also happens to be the birthday of the city’s patron saint, Joan of Arc. History, legend and real life often create everyday activities in culturally diverse New Orleans. At Mardi Gras World that legacy keeps 50 artists busy year round.
Mardi Gras expresses the uniqueness of a region that’s been home and country to Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, the Americas and displaced populations (Cajuns, slaves). There are Mardi Gras parades from Mobile, Alabama to Galveston, Texas and in every parish in southern Louisiana. But New Orleans is the cultural center of Mardi Gras in North America.
Mardi Gras is the gumbo of festivals, a melange of cultural and social influences. It has traditions set by krewes – dozens of them – but it’s the individual themes chosen each year by the krewes that make Mardi Gras parades unpredictable fun. Yet the evolution of Mardi Gras as we know it today is an 1870s invention of New Orleans businessmen to honor the visit of a Russian prince on Fat Tuesday. They created the Krewe of Rex and the good times have been rolling since.
Mardi Gras World is a family owned juggernaut of monumental float designs. Founded in the 1930s by New Orleans artist Blaine Kern (Kern Studios ) what started as painting random props for parade floats quickly blossomed into contracts with over a dozen of Mardi Gras most influential and historic krewes including Rex. Beyond parades, Kern Studios is the leader in creating “themed environments” for conventions, resorts and the media.
The krewes own the massive float infrastructures – the actual moving machines – but the decorations, the props, are usually rented from Kern Studios since themes change annually. Many props today start with a base of styrofoam.
Often props are repurposed several times and Kern Studio artists make magic with such standard mediums as paper mache to create features.
The larger than life demensions of most props dictate spray painting as an efficient method, although meticulous brush painting may still be necessary with elaborate detail.
Appropriate to the city’s nickname, the Big Easy, after the tour guests are free to wander the massive warehouse admiring, photographing and watching the artists at work. One would never guess that the parades begin in a couple short weeks. By the end of January, Mardi Gras season will be in full swing with over two weeks of parades, many showcasing the grandeur and fun of Kern Studio’s Mardi Gras World artistry.
Mardi Gras World, located on the Mississippi River in downtown New Orleans, is open for tours seven days a week. Parking is available but a free shuttle runs from several hotels and tourist locations in the city.
“Alonissos is a close knit community,” British expats Dave Court and Gerry Ivison said. For me it’s the robetiko ballads that touch the soul of both Alonissos and Greece.
Not all Greek islands are similar. In this most northerly of the Sporades islands, the towering pine forests tumble down the rocky cliffs to the sea.
Secluded beaches, historic towns, lush pine forests, the land gives way to solitude as one drives north from the port capital of Patitiri to Gerka. Cafes, tavernas, museums, hotels, artists all make Alonissos home, and so did pirates.
Read more in my Hellenic News of America column on this alluring central Aegean island…
As an Acadian historian and cultural anthropologist I sing the praises of my family heritage and its extraordinary history. Yet as a chef…both Acadian and Cajun foods are misunderstood and misrepresented in the North American rush to celebrate regional cuisine. They’re worthy but limited.
The greatest difference separating Cajun and Acadian cooking is spices. Cajun uses spices borrowed from Creole cuisine – a different fusion altogether. Of course world famous Tabasco sauce has become a Cajun standard even though its origin is clearly West Indian.
Read my story on discovering the cuisine of my ancestry:
Spread out over the heart of downtown Columbia yet anchored at the University of Missouri’s Peace Park, the Roots, Blues and BBQ Festival offers both music and food enthusiasts something to crow about.