While its just an ordinary Tuesday for most of the country, in New Orleans its FAT TUESDAY which means its Mardi Gras Day, the culmination of the nine week Carnival season. Today, more than one million revelers began lining the parade route well before dawn in anticipation of hundreds of decorative floats and marching bands.
Interesting Mardi Gras Facts:
- Mardi Gras, which in French means Fat Tuesday, has been held in New Orleans since 1837.
- Mardi Gras floats first appeared in 1857.
- The Mardi Gras season attracts more than two million visitors to the New Orleans area.
- More than 70 parades roll through the streets of New Orleans with tens of thousands of maskers on board throwing millions of plastic beads, glass beads and other trinkets.
- Mardi Gras has been a legal holiday in New Orleans since 1875.
- The tradition of throwing items such as beads, plastic cups and trinkets from the floats to parade-goers dates back to Renaissance Europe. In New Orleans, the first person to do so was a Krewe (the name of a carnival organization) member dressed as Santa Claus in the 1880s.
- Mardi Gras revelers of all ages are encouraged to join float riders by dressing up and masking on Carnival Day.
- An economic impact study released by the University of New Orleans estimates that Mardi Gras generates over $840 million annually for the city of New Orleans.
- Fat Tuesday is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, the 40-day solemn Lenten season observed by Christians which leads up to Easter Sunday.
- More than 500,000 king cakes are sold each year in New Orleans between January 6 (Kings Day) and Fat Tuesday, and another 50,000 are shipped out-of-state via overnight couriers.
- The metro area's 30,000-plus hotel rooms are traditionally 95% filled during Mardi Gras weekend.