Seniors celebrate Fat Tuesday

Seniors at the Douglas County Senior Center celebrated Fat Tuesday with a party, and several people came wearing feathered masks. Mardi Gras is often observed by parades and festivities. But, what is the history of Mardi Gras?

According to, the Mardi Gras tradition "started a long, long time ago."

"Early Christians only performed baptisms on Easter Sunday. So people would fast and pray before being baptized, and that tradition became Lent," states the Web site. "Mardi Gras Day is on Tuesday because it is the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

"Human nature being what it is, people are inclined to go on a bender immediately before a period of deprivation, prayer, and fasting. Hence: Fat Tuesday."

Mardi Gras history timeline:

Early French history Ð For some reason, the French are famous for celebrating Fat Tuesday over the centuries. It must have something to do with their mix of wine, Catholicism, amorous French tendencies, the massive popularity of masking and satire during the French Renaissance.

1699 Ð Pierre Le Moyne settles in the Mississippi Delta and names his camp "Pointe du Mardi Gras."

1710 Ð Boeuf Graf Society forms in Mobile, the capital of the French territory of Louisianne.

1711 Ð First Mardi Gras parade is held in Mobile.

1719 Ð First two shiploads of slaves arrive from Africa.

1720s Ð Black slaves escape and co-mingle with local Native American tribes, notably the Houma and Natchez. The tradition of Mardi Gras Indians dates back to this common struggle against European colonists.

1723 Ð Nouvelle Orle'ans becomes capital of Louisianne territory.

1741 Ð Marquis de Vaudreuil, governor of Louisianne, establishes elegant society balls in the springtime, when the New Orleans weather is best.

1746 Ð First references to feathery Mardi Gras Indian costumes.

1764 Ð First Acadians arrive in Louisianne. Over time, their name is mispronounced and eventually becomes "Cajun."

1783 Ð First black Mardi Gras group formed, called the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association.

1803 Ð President Thomas Jefferson purchases the Louisiana Territory for the U.S.

1823 Ð Ban on Creole balls is lifted. The ban had been imposed in 1781 to quell the threat of slave uprisings.

1835-1837 Ð The first Mardi Gras float wheels through town, initiated by the Cowbellion Society from Mobile. They also organize a masked street procession, with some maskers in carriages or on horseback.

1840 Ð Antoine's Restaurant opens, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in New Orleans.

1856 Ð Thirteen locals and six men of Mobile decide to make the first parade of floats. Their ball has over 3,000 guests.

1861-1864 Ð Civil War halts Mardi Gras parades.

1867 Ð First krewe is established to organize a parade: The Krewe of Comus.

1871 Ð First recorded "throws" during a parade. A second krewe is established (The Twelfth Night Revelers), and they choose their queen by drawing a golden bean out of a King Cake. The tradition of a King Cake is established.

1872 Ð The King Rex chooses the colors purple, green, and gold for their Mardi Gras parade. Those are still the official colors of Mardi Gras. The Russian Grand Duke Alexis is in town to see the first Rex parade.

1875 Ð Mardi Gras is declared a legal holiday in Louisiana.

1889 Ð Electricity lights marchers for the first time

1892 Ð The King Rex gives the colors meaning: gold for power, green for faith, purple for justice.

1899 Ð Temperatures dip to 7 degrees during the coldest Mardi Gras on record.

1918-1920 Ð Mardi Gras canceled during World War I

1933 Ð Rain and the height of the Depression cause the first and only rain-out for the Rex parade

1938 Ð Krewe of Hermes introduces the first neon lights on floats

1941 Ð First all-female parade rolls, organized by the Krewe of Venus

1942-1945 Ð Mardi Gras canceled during World War II

1948 Ð Blaine Kern develops his first float for the Krewe of Alla. His family's creations will create floats for generations and eventually become the feature attraction at Mardi Gras World in the Westbank

1949 Ð Zulu has the first celebrity king: Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong

1950 Ð The Duke and Duchess of Windsor visit Mardi Gras and make international news by bowing to the King of the Rex parade

1960 Ð Alvin Sharpe throws the first Mardi Gras doubloons in the Rex parade. The decorated aluminum coins become a traditional throw.

1970 Ð Krewe of Bacchus holds the first ball that is open to the public

1977 Ð Arthur Hardy makes his debut as Mr. Mardi Gras.

1988 Ð The "Coconut Bill" is passed by the state legislature, which bans Zulu from throwing their trademark coconuts from the float. Zulu begins to gently hand the coconuts to the crowds.

1996 Ð publishes a Mardi Gras site.

1998 Ð A better coconut: Willie Clark, a local telecom worker, invents a new, decorated coconut, which becomes is adopted by Zulu the next year.


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