New Orleans, Louisiana
When discussing Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States, you might as well start with the most famous one in New Orleans. Most of the other celebrations around the country get their best ideas from this famous town's parties and events. Parades with elaborate floats and fantastically costumed people are watched by spectators anxious to catch beads and other treats being thrown. Formal balls are also held, as well as many not-so-formal parties.
Mardi Gras masks can be worn by anyone wishing to put one on, but it's a law that anyone riding on a float must wear a mask. King cakes are the ultimate Mardi Gras dessert in New Orleans, which is a round, cinnamon-sugar filled pastry topped with icing sugared in purple, green, and yellow. Inside the cake, a small plastic baby is hidden to signify the baby Jesus, and the person finding it is granted good luck.
Mobile, not New Orleans, is home to the very first Mardi Gras celebration in our country. It first took place in 1703, while New Orleans didn't establish their annual event for another 15 years! Popular traditions here include a 150-foot fire-breathing dragon named Vernadean and the throwing of Moon Pies to the parade crowds.
This town's events are more light-hearted and family-oriented than a lot of other venues. It's one of the oldest Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S.A. having started in 1874. In addition to throwing beads and coins to spectators during their parades, Moon Pies are also thrown.
Tampa has been holding an annual event inspired by Mardi Gras known as the Gasparilla Pirate Festival since 1904. It's coined as a "friendly invasion by mythical pirate José Gaspar and his crew." Three parades are held during the festival season of late January-early March, one of which is an invasion fleet boat parade.
A part of the Mardi Gras festivities in Hollywood, in addition to live entertainment and Creole food, include Fiesta Tropicale. This emerged from a tradition that started in 1935 as Fiesta of the Nations which celebrated different cultures featuring performances by costumed children. A big parade is held for this event through the downtown business district.
La Crosse, Wisconsin
They have only been celebrating officially since 1991. It began as a fundraising project to provide assistance for Catholic School tuition in the area. Today, their events also provide funding for the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, the Boys & Girls Clubs, and the YMCA. The town hosts a formal costume ball plus a family festival for the community.
St. Louis, Missouri
Closer to home for us is the very popular and very large St. Louis celebration centered around Soulard. It's said that the legacy is linked to the founding of St. Louis by French fur traders back in 1764. Many people that attend that can also be found at our very own world's largest pub crawl right here at the Lake of the Ozarks!
St. Louis that will host events from January 6-March 5 this year. The most popular part of their celebration happens around the Soulard neighborhood. (For 2019, this will take place on February 23-24, so you can enjoy it and still make it to the Lake Pub Crawl the weekend before!) In addition to a New Orleans-inspired parade for adults, some family-friendly activities are scheduled. These include a "Krewe of Barkus" pet parade followed by Wiener dog races.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
A trip to mid-Missouri is a must at Mardi Gras time because the Lake of the Ozarks Mardi Gras Pub Crawl is an absolute blast and it gets bigger and better every single year! In 2018, there were 17 stops at bars and restaurants along the pub crawl route with 32 buses safely transporting party-goers from the historic Bagnell Dam Strip in Lake Ozark to the far end of Osage Beach.
As we mentioned earlier, the 2019 Lake Pub Crawl is happening on Saturday, February 16. A $10 wristband gets you into every participating venue, each featuring their own live music. You also get a safe, sober ride on all of the pub crawl buses from 4:00 pm in the afternoon until 2:30 am the next morning.
That date is going to be here a lot sooner than you realize, so it's time to start planning your trip now! Hotel specials have recently been added to the website at www.LakePubCrawl.com. If you'd like to be notified as more plans are finalized, text "LAKEPUBCRAWL" to 71441 to receive updates sent directly to your phone. Don't forget to visit our website to sign up for a FREE PUB CRAWL PACKAGE, and while you're there, sign up for our email newsletter too. That way, you won't miss a single thing!
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