The Greatest Mardi Gras Floats of All Time
Mardi Gras, a New Orleans tradition since the early 1700s, features some of the most beautiful and elaborate floats in the United States. Nonprofit organizations called krewes organize themes and fund the floats in addition to planning the parades and balls that take place around Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Break out your Mardi Gras mask and discover the festivals best floats below.
Pontchartrain Beach Then and Now
In 2013, the "Endymion’s Pontchartrain Beach, Then and Now" wowed parade goers with its massive size and elaborate look. The float, named for an old amusement park, measured 365 feet long and had nine sections that were segmented to allow it to handle turns more easily. Designed to recreate the Pontchartrain Beach carnival midway, the float featured 250 riders and a 190-ton capacity.
The Mardi Gras float known as Leviathan rolled out in 1998 as part of the Orpheus krewe parade. Orpheus krewe, cofounded in 1993 by performer Harry Connick, Jr., had only four years of parade experience before unveiling this masterpiece. The massive sea monster Leviathan measured 140 feet and in its debut year earned the title of largest float. Leviathan is bold, colorful and the first Mardi Gras float to use fiber-optic lighting.
Most of the elaborate (and expensive) Mardi Gras floats appear in the parades beyond their debut year. The Bacchasaurus float from the Bacchus krewe was a huge hit when it made its first appearance in 1972, and it continues to be a showstopper today when it rolls out during the Bacchus parade. Created by the Blaine Kern Studios, the magnificent brachiosaurus has been transformed into the Bacchasuarus, complete with decadent grape festooning and wine barrels.
Mardi Gras Floats: The Artistry
The Blaine Kern Studios are the artistic masterminds behind most Mardi Gras floats. A New Orleans institution since 1947, the float-building company even houses the grand floats during the off season. Visitors can even tour the facility and see some of the most magnificent floats that have ever graced the streets of New Orleans.
Mardi Gras Shoebox Floats
You can capture the artistry, pageantry and fun that is Mardi Gras with a miniature float crafted from a shoebox. These much-smaller versions of the magnificent floats that roll out during Mardi Gras are great craft projects for kids as well as adults. If you’re hosting a Mardi Gras-Theme party, try your hand at a shoebox float (or two or three), which then can become fun table centerpieces. For a Mardi Gras shoebox float, you’ll need a shoebox that has its lid, spray paint, hot glue (plus a hot glue gun) or craft glue, craft paper, tissue paper, feathers, beads and other embellishments to create a stunning mini-float. Mardi Gras Outlet has a page of easy instructions for your Mardi Gras shoebox float.