Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is the day before Ash Wednesday, and is also called "Shrove Tuesday" or "Pancake Day". It is the final day of Carnival. It is a celebration that is held just before the beginning of the Christian liturgical season of Lent.
New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations draw hundreds of thousands of tourists to the city in addition to the celebrating locals for the parties and parades. Most tourists can be found within the French Quarter, especially Bourbon Street. Mardi Gras came to New Orleans with the French settlers at the start of the 18th century.
New Orleans developed new traditions, including Carnival organizations called Krewes, which decorate gaily colored floats, "Truck parades" of huge, decorated trucks often have more than 100 entries. Other parades are held by "walking clubs," consisting of maskers promenading to the blare of the city's famous jazz bands. There are also elaborate masked, tableau balls held by most of the parading krewes and other organizations which limit their activities only to balls. Usually invitation-only affairs, many of the balls feature the presentation of the city's debutantes. New Roads, Louisiana hosts the state's oldest Mardi Gras celebration outside New Orleans. The family-friendly celebration consists of floats, marching bands and drill units.
Lafayette, Louisiana is home to a large Mardi Gras celebration which includes eight parades of floats and bands during the Carnival season.
Other places in the New Orleans metropolitan area also have celebrations; notably the suburbs of Metairie, La Place and Chalmette have large parades. Without the restrictions on commercial sponsorship of parades seen in Orleans Parish, there is much advertising and trademark placements on the parades in Metairie. Metairie parades also tend to be more family-oriented, and even include a children's parade. Houma, Louisiana hosts a significant Mardi Gras celebration of nine parades, three of which roll on Shrove Tuesday, and the others on the two weekends preceding the big day. In parts of the Cajun country of southwestern Louisiana, the traditional Courir du Mardi Gras (French - Running of the Mardi Gras) is still run, sometimes by maskers on horseback led by "Le Capitaine" who gather ingredients for making the communal meal (usually a gumbo). (read more . . . )
Justin E. Wilson (April 24, 1914 - September 5, 2001) was a southern American chef and humorist known for his brand of Cajun cuisine-inspired cooking and humor. He was a self-styled "raconteur".
Wilson was born in Roseland in Tangipahoa Parish, one of the "Florida Parishes" east of Baton Rouge. He began his career as a safety engineer while he traveled throughout Acadiana. His safety lectures that he made to refinery workers prompted him on the road to becoming a Cajun storyteller.
Wilson (who was actually only one-half Cajun, or "half-bleed Ca-jon" as he put it) later recorded several humor albums, beginning with "The Humorous World of Justin Wilson." He later appeared as a guest on the popular CBS series The Ed Sullivan Show. He was known for the catchphrase, "I gar-own-tee!". He later wrote seven Cajun cookbooks and two books of Cajun stories, and hosted several cooking shows on PBS that combined Cajun cooking and Cajun humor.
Wilson was also politically active in his early years. His father, Democrat Harry D. Wilson, was the Louisiana agriculture commissioner in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1951-1952, Justin Wilson was the manager of the unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Lieutenant Governor William J. "Bill" Dodd. He and Dodd were close though they often disagreed on political philosophy. Wilson's brother-in-law, Bolivar Kemp, was the Democratic attorney general of Louisiana from 1948-1952. (read more . . . )