We are getting closer and closer to Mardi Gras, and that means that float making season is in full force at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans!
But before we go into how the floats are actually made let’s step back and look at what happens before that famous Mardi Gras celebration.
Many of you might not know that there is a Carnival Season in New Orleans. From January 6 to Fat Tuesday, there are many parades and celebrations that occur in and around the city.
And the two weeks before Ash Wednesday, you can almost guarantee that there is a parade, or two, that will pass down St. Charles and Canal Streets.
In fact, this year, there will be a total of 54 parades in New Orleans that are scheduled to happen within that short, 7-week period.
Mardi Gras Parades
Every parade has a separate Krewe that is in charge of putting on and funding the parade. Therefore, in order to pay for the cost of the parade, each Krewe charges a membership fee to each individual who wants to be associated with that specific parade.
This membership fee will help fund not only the building of the floats, but also the costumes and any items that they want to throw out of the float as it goes down the street.
Some of the Krewes build low-cost floats themselves. But the larger, more extravagant parades that you most often hear about, hire professionals to build floats that they rent for use in the parade.
And this year, Mardi Gras World is responsible for providing all the floats for 18 of those parades.
However, this process may take longer than you can imagine. So in order to find out more about this famous celebration, we took a trip to Mardi Gras World.
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World is in a large warehouse where the floats are designed and built. In the front of the building is a gift shop where you can buy a ticket to get a behind the scenes tour of the work that is being done to build the floats.
Although it was impressive to see the finished products of many of the props from previous year’s floats, it is the actually building process that was simply amazing.
The process to design a float begins the day after Mardi Gras. The team gets together to decide on a theme for next year’s parade.
And immediately, the designers get to work. Rough sketches are made and presented and once approved the building of the float is quickly begun.
The first step is to build the structures that will be mounted on the float itself. Superheroes, fictional characters, animals, famous athletes, and whatever else you can imagine is built here.
Today, most of the props you see are made out of layer of styrofoam that has been glued together.
It is then cut out either by hand or by a mechanical router, nicknamed Pixie.
Next carvers start carving out the designs to make them 3-D by using electric carving knives, curry combs, and blades.
Once the shape is formed, it then gets moved to the paper mache working stations.
That’s right. They use the old technique of paper mache to smooth out the rough edges of the styrofoam so that the finished product is nice and smooth.
The Final Station
Once the paper mache application is finished, the Mardi Gras World staff transfers the prop to the painting stations.
Here is where talented artists, painters, and air brush specialists bring the prop to life. Then, the final step is to mount them to the float itself.
It is truly amazing how this process is coordinated. And because it is getting so close to the busy parade schedule, we were able to see floats that were nearly complete.
So if you are ever in New Orleans, we encourage you to take the tour at Mardi Gras World. And as a bonus, they will even come pick you up on their FREE shuttle!
Check out what else we have seen and done on our Trip Across America.
Happy Traveling! Jim and Mary
CURRENT TRIP STATUS TO DATE:
- Day 144 of 365
- States : 18/50
- National Parks / Monuments : 20
- Stayed In : Livingston, Louisiana
- Miles Driven : 110.3
- Total Trip Miles To Date : 16,127.2
- Total Gallons Used : 1,168.63
- Biking Miles : 0.0
- Biking Miles To Date : 158.4
- Hiking Miles : 3.2
- Hiking Miles To Date : 327.1
On September 9th, 2019, we set out in our NuCamp T@B 400 Teardrop Camper to travel to every state. You can check out all of our dates here : Dates for the States
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