Happy Mardi Gras! Let the Good Times Roll!
About two years ago this time, I was in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a birthday trip and to my surprise, my then boyfriend (now husband) proposed in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. Fast forward two years and I’m married, live in a new city – Chicago, am part of an amazing team at Hyatt and get to share my love for traveling through posts like this. So it’s almost an obvious choice why I would pick to write about Mardi Gras in New Orleans for my first blog post – it’s taking me back to a place that holds a special place in my heart.
Although I was there in March of 2012, it was a few weeks after Mardi Gras and I didn’t get to experience one of the most famous parades in the United States and arguably in the world. With today being Mardi Gras, I thought it would be fun to look into this amazing tradition and share some of the cool things the city and Hyatt Regency New Orleans and Hyatt French Quarter are doing to prepare.
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” and it refers to the Tuesday before the Catholic Lent season begins. Mardi Gras has come to be known as the highlight of the Carnival season – a time which originally included people coming together to eat, drink and prepare for Lent. Mardi Gras is celebrated all around the world and it dates back to the early 1700s. In the United States, Mardi Gras celebrations began in New Orleans in the 1770s but it wasn’t until decades later that New Orleans held street festivities. It eventually evolved to what it is today – a major parade with colorful floats, awe-inspiring costumes, quirky masks, lots and lots of beads and most importantly thousands of people from all over the world.
As you can imagine, this is a busy time for our hotels in the city. Hyatt French Quarter is so close to the parade route that the festivities can be enjoyed right from one of the hotel’s balconies. In the spirit of Mardi Gras, the hotel’s tavern bar Batch Bar is serving King Cake cocktails – that’s right King Cake cocktails! Isn’t it 5 o’clock somewhere?
Hyatt Regency New Orleans will be lit in green, purple and gold today. The hotel will also serve King Cakes – the picture says it all!
Additionally, in preparation, the hotel has been preparing 56,500 smoked apple wood bacon, 22,000 pounds live crawfish, 1,450 patties of 8 oz. prime beef, 15,450 pounds of uncooked bread dough and 925 pounds of yellow stone grits. Tell me it’s not only my mouth that is watering just hearing this!
If you’ll be at Mardi Gras this year, I hope you share your experience with us below. If you’re planning on going in the near future, below are some tips for your visit:
- Dress in costume. If you’re not in costume, then make sure to wear the Mardi Gras colors – Purple represents justice. Green represents faith. Gold represents power.
- Yell out “Throw me something, mister!” when floats are going by and catch your keepsake from the experience. Items tossed from floats to spectators include beads, cups and other knick-knacks.
- Make sure you arrive early to get a great spot. After all, you’ve made it all the way to New Orleans so you don’t want to watch the parade behind a dozen people.
- Be careful when reaching down to pick up beads – I hear some crazy stories about people wanting their beads!
- Have a (or a dozen) beignets at Café Du Monde – a personal favorite.
- And most importantly, HAVE FUN! This is probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.