History of Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana

Mardi Gras in Southwest Louisiana has a colorful history dating back to 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 which 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 first hand. However, there were a few that 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.

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 a most exciting season, is encouraged to come out and join in the merriment of Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras Fun Facts: 

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

  2. Southwest Louisiana’s Mardi Gras celebration is the second-largest in the state behind New Orleans, featuring more than 60 different krewes. 

  3. 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. 

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

  5. That the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu contains the largest collection of Mardi Gras costumes in the world. 

  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. 

  9. 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.