No we are not in New Orleans at the right time of year to partake in any of the Mardi Gras festivities. However we did spend a few hours at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World today. Mardi Gras World makes the vast majority of the floats, props and sculptures that make the Mardi Gras parades what they are. Blaine started working on Mardi Gras floats in 1947.
We started our tour in a room that had some props and costumes that have been used in parades. We then watched a movie that explained a lot about the history of Mardi Gras. There is not one Mardi Gras parade but a good number of them that run over the course of a couple of weeks. The parades are put on by individual groups called krewes (pronounced crews). The krewes collect dues from members and run various fund raisers to raise the money needed to put on a parade. Each parade is put on by a single krew. The larger parades are put on by the super krewes which can have around 2500 members. In addition to paying dues krew members pay for the items they throw from the floats during the parades.
After the movie we had a piece of King Cake and then moved into the work area of the factory. The props (items that go on the floats, etc.) are made in a few ways. Some are made by putting paper mache over a frame, others are sculpted from Styrofoam covered with paper and then painted, and others are molded from fiberglass. The props are stored and refashioned and re-used when possible. Mardi Gras World has about 20 warehouses full of floats and props going back about 50 years.
The krewes come to Mardi Gras World the week after Mardi Gras day to start the work for next years parade. The krew has an idea for a parade theme and start working with the artists at Mardi Gras World producing sketches. The sketches eventually end up as full color drawings like the one shown here that the sculptors and painters work from.
We then moved into an area where the floats are assembled. Looking down the row of beautiful floats was amazing.
We took about 185 pictures since I could only add a few to this blog you can go here to see them all – Mardi Gras World Pictures