It’s Always Mardi Gras at This Tourist Attraction

It’s 245 days to Mardi Gras 2017, but in New Orleans planning for that epic celebration begins the day after Fat Tuesday. For tourists who can’t make it to the Crescent City on the day before Ash Wednesday, visiting Mardi Gras World will suffice. Touring the warehouse where floats are stored and reworked for the next parade, takes visitors inside the complicated process that results in decorated floats that both amuse and amaze.

IMG_3922Since 1947, Blaine Kern Studios has created the floats not only for New Orleans’s Mardi Gras, but for other events around the U.S. and the world. During the informative tour, the process is explained in detail.

IMG_3914Anyone who has worked on crafts in school or as a hobbyist will relate. After artists create the sketches, blocks of Styrofoam are used to carve out each figure. Then comes the paper mache, layers of brown paper painstakingly applied to cover the sculptures.

IMG_3926Painting comes next and, because this is Mardi Gras, bright colors dominate. Three colors are seen most often, purple for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.

FullSizeRenderDuring the tour, actual artists may be seen working on next year’s floats. The floats themselves are stored in the facility and are touched up each year to maintain freshness. Because Mardi Gras participants may spend more than five hours tossing out beads and candy to  the crowds that line the route, each float is equipped with a bathroom and plenty of water and snacks.

IMG_3924While Mardi Gras is an ages old tradition, technology is having an impact. Computers now help to sculpt many of the figures that will delight young and old during the next parade. Needless to say, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a sold out even, hotels booking up months in advance. If you plan to go next year, it’s never too soon to book your hotel.

IMG_3933For more information, go to the website for Mardi Gras World.

Photos by Charlene Giannetti.


About Charlene Giannetti (591 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that had its premiere at WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it won two awards. The film is now available to view on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other services. Charlene and her husband live in Manhattan.