It’s all about Mardi Gras…

We went to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World where Mardi Gras floats are created. We got sneak peeks at some of this year’s floats, and an even sneakier peek at 2014 floats.Did you know there are over 50 parades every year in the New Orleans area? Floats can only be 16 feet high due to the height of street lights and overhead utility lines. Parades were moved off the streets of the French Quarter as floats got larger. The streets are too narrow to support the amount of traffic involved in the major parades.

Krewes are non-profit organizations that put on the various parades in any given location. Each parade is only held once and each float can only be in one parade. A parade must have at least 14 floats and no more than 28. It suddenly becomes a word problem in math. How many parades with 14 floats can intersect with parades containing 21 to 28 floats without having any two floats crossing paths more than once? All of them.
Yeah. So, anyway. The company Mardi Gras World makes more than just floats for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. They also make props (what the figurines and busts are called) for casinos, amusement parks and ad campaigns. They have a set of Chick-fil-A cows (Eat Mor Chikn), and busts of several Warner Brothers and Disney characters. There are also plenty of movie characters and movie stars.

Props are created by taking blocks of Styrofoam and shaping them using basic carpentry type tools and then putting a layer of papier-mache on to smooth and paint. I’ve tried to show all phases of the development, and how many props or busts can be used in more than one context.
Obviously, literal images of a real person or character, can only be used as themselves, but more abstract images can be used in different ways. The head of a mermaid can be a mermaid or a witch, depending on how she’s painted. There are also floats and props that are called signature floats because they are used every year and are known as Kern floats.
The parade floats themselves are works of art. They also contain the necessary elements for lights, ‘fire’ smoke, as well as a restroom and safety hooks to keep krewe members aboard regardless of inebriation. There is even a list of do’s and don’ts for people to follow.
And while we’re talking about parades, and such, we got to see a little procession while we were enjoying an afternoon espresso and beignet. (Whoo! Got to squeeze that in one more time!) A small New Orleans jazz band marched up the street by a group of people with an elderly couple being pulled in a carriage. Upon reflection we realized that there were at least four generations of a family celebrating an anniversary. So that was pretty cool.

So enjoy your little mini, virtual tour of Mardi Gras World.