You've got a crew, right? People you work alongside, friends you hang out with, maybe members of your book club, yoga class or church. You think of these people as "yours," because you have shared interests or activities. The same is true of America's largest party — Mardi Gras.
The etymology of the term, "Mardi Gras," is actually French, meaning "Fat Tuesday," but it has long been celebrated in the U.S. Experts believe it arrived in North America as far back as 1699. While we attribute Mardi Gras celebrations primarily to New Orleans, Mobile, Alabama, actually claims rights to the country's oldest Mardi Gras celebration. By all accounts, New Orleans, just 140 or so miles away, has taken over Mardi Gras celebrations, doing them bigger and better than ever before.
Part of the fun surrounding Fat Tuesday is attributed to the parades, available to all who dare to get close enough — for free. And, those parades are put on by different "krewes." (There's that word again!) Mardi Gras krewes are simply groups of people with similarities or shared interests who band together to stage parades. One of the krewes is even responsible for the colors we associate with Mardi Gras — purple, green and gold — as well as the collectible coins that have become a part of the event.
The bottom line is, without the krewes, there would be no Mardi Gras parades! The city of New Orleans only issues parade permits; it does not stage the elaborate affairs. So, let's pay tribute to the krewes that bring us all the Fat Tuesday fun. How many of these groups can you identify? Free virtual bead toss if you get them all!