About Mardi Gras in Lake Charles

Mardi Gras of Imperial Calcasieu celebration begins January 6 with the annual Twelfth Night Revelry. The entire community, along with anyone who might wish to sample our Southwest Louisiana atmosphere during the most exciting season, is encouraged to come out and join in the merriment of Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras weekend kicks off on the Friday before Mardi Gras day with the Merchants' Parade, and the weekend holds all sorts of fun from gumbo cook-offs to Cajun food and music, Children's activities, various parades, and the grand finale are Main Event (Krewe of Krewes Parade) on Mardi Gras day.

Lake Charles is also the only place in the state where the public is invited to see the ornate costumes of the royal courts from all local krewes in one place, both at the Twelfth Night evening, usually held on January 6 each year, as well as the Royal Gala, held the evening before Mardi Gras day. It's a nominal fee that gets the public in the door, and jeans are the comfort clothes of choice for these presentations! Also, at the Twelfth Night presentation of courts, each person walking in the door gets a piece of King Cake, and grand prizes are given out to lucky patrons.

Origin of Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana:

Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana has a colorful history dating back to the earliest recorded Mardi Gras celebration on Tuesday, February 21, 1882, when Momus, King of Mardi Gras, landed his royal yacht at the foot of Pujo Street. After this event, Mardi Gras was celebrated in a spirit that included Mardi Gras "runs" in Lake Charles and surrounding areas.

With the onset of a World War, this joyous occasion went "underground" for many years and was almost forgotten by the generations that had not experienced the festivities of the Mardi Gras season firsthand. However, there were a few who wanted to keep this tradition alive, and the first Mardi Gras Ball in this area was staged in 1964.

Mardi Gras did not experience a full revival in Lake Charles until 1979 when several Krewe captains formed the "Krewe of Krewes" with the prime purpose of parading and promoting Mardi Gras for the Southwest Louisiana area. Just six years later in 1985, Mardi Gras of Imperial Calcasieu, Inc. was formed by a group of civic-minded volunteers, further enhancing and enlarging the modern-day Mardi Gras celebration.

Family-Friendly Atmosphere:

In Lake Charles, you can experience lavish costumes and the big city pageantry of Mardi Gras along with a family-friendly feel. In fact, there is a whole day dedicated to children and family activities during the celebration, and parade routes are filled with families lining the streets, so that makes Mardi Gras in Lake Charles a unique place to experience Carnival. 

Fun Facts:

  1. One of the earliest recorded Mardi Gras celebrations in Southwest Louisiana is believed to have taken place over 140 years ago on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 1882. 

  2. The Royal Gala held on Lundi Gras each year is the only event in the state that allows the public to see the Krewe's Royal Courts in costume. 

  3. Southwest Louisiana’s Mardi Gras celebration is the second largest in the state only to New Orleans by the number of krewes participating in Mardi Gras activities, featuring more than 50 different krewes. 

  4. The average Mardi Gras costume weighs more than 50 pounds and construction for next year’s costumes often begins just days after this year’s event. 

  5. Most of the caps that you see on the costume-wearers began as a simple piece of aluminum foil. 

  6. Cajun Mardi Gras costumes are often made of shirts and pants that feature large, colorful fringes. 

  7. The tall, pointy hats typically seen at a Cajun Mardi Gras celebration are called “capuchins” (pronounced cappy-shons) and are meant to parody the headdresses of France's noble ladies. 

  8. The first Miss Mardi Gras of Imperial Calcasieu was crowned in 1983 and the title went to Miss Christine Marie Campbell. 


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