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Celebrating Mardi Gras in Texas: Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll!)

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The history of Mardi Gras can be traced as far back as medieval Europe by way of Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries, to the French House of the Bourbons. It was here that the tradition of celebrating “Boeuf Gras,” a.k.a. fatted calf, followed the French to their colonies. In 1699, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, a French-Canadian explorer, arrived at a spot approximately 60 miles due south of New Orleans and called it “Pointe du Mardi Gras” having realized their arrival came on the eve of that festive holiday. He was the very same who established “Fort Louis de la Louisiane” (now Mobile), which in 1703 celebrated the very first Mardi Gras in America. Fast forward roughly 300 years, and the joy and exuberance with which Mardi Gras is celebrated in Louisiana have taken on an entirely broader atmosphere and appeal than was originally intended, but nonetheless, it’s intoxicating, jubilant, and apparently…contagious! A Texas Mardi Gras is the Lone Star State’s version of that same joyous and exciting experience, only one state over from its originators, and if you’re unable to travel, we’ll bring the party to you!

Mardi Gras Galveston

Celebrating Mardi Gras in Texas: Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll!)

Photo: Pixabay

The basis for the original parades was a celebration by secret society revelers that morphed into modern day Mardi Gras krewes (for clarification: a krewe is really any group of celebrators that come together to host a ball, a parade float, or participate in Mardi Gras events.) In Louisiana, it started with the Masque de la Mobile, then the Boeuf Gras Society, followed by the Mistick Krewe of Comus and, eventually, the Twelfth Night Revelers. From there, Mardi Graw krewes continued to develop from the same private social clubs. In Texas, there’s always room for a parade. And in Galveston, for example, there’s room for 20! Galveston, TX hosts Mardi Gras Galveston from February 17-28 this year, featuring parades, processionals, and entertainment, not to mention masked balls, concerts and balcony parties. Now in its 106th year, the celebration only gets bigger and better, like all great Texas things.

Mardi Gras Nocona Style

Celebrating Mardi Gras in Texas: Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll!)

Photo: Pixabay

Back in New Orleans, LA, Mardi Gras was celebrated from the early 1740’s, minus the parades we now see today. At that time, Louisiana’s governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, held elegant society balls as the festivity du jour, which transformed into the model after which the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today design themselves. In Texas, Mardi Gras gets celebrated in Nocona every February, putting a family-friendly spin on the New Orleans originals. They call it Mardi Gras Nocona Style, and this year it was held February 16-18. Here, their festivities actually commenced with the Mardi Gras Ball, which was held on February 4, complete with costumes and masks and the choosing of the Mardi Gras King and Queen! Following that, however, the full bore celebrating began with a huge three-day Tailgate Party, Cajun food as well as music, vendors, and a ton of family activities, where they say it’s “all about the beads, boots, and classic cars”!

Mardi Gras Port Arthur

Celebrating Mardi Gras in Texas: Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler (Let the Good Times Roll!)

Photo: Wikimedia

Speaking of beads, back in Louisiana, 1872 was the year in which a group of businessmen chose to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff during Mardi Gras, by introducing his family colors of purple, green, and gold as the Mardi Gras Carnival’s official colors. In Southeast Texas, specifically Port Arthur, their celebrations and festivities (including beads) are now going on 25 years. From February 23-26, Port Arthur will become Texas’ southeastern Mardi Gras capital complete with a carnival, parades, a gumbo cookoff, a number of concerts, laser show, fishing tournament, and of course, a ball! Mardi Gras Port Arthur is focused on family fun, food, and absolutely on good times. Louisiana may have the “Mardi Gras Act,” making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in their state, but in Texas, we simply know how to have a good time, making any day seem like a holiday! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Sources:

Mardi Gras New Orleans History

Mardi Gras Galveston

Mardi Gras Nocona Style

Mardi Gras Port Arthur