Oldest New Orleans Video Features Mardi Gras Fun

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The Louisiana State Museum has exhibited what is believed to be the oldest video of New Orleans and Mardi Gras.

The black-and-white images from 1898 show a parade, watched by smartly dressed people lining the streets and crowding onto the balconies – not so different from today’s revelers, although perhaps a bit more reserved. The footage, found at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, is part of an exhibit marking the 150th anniversary of the Rex Organization, which stages one of Louisiana’s largest Mardi Gras parades.

Mardi Gras – French for “Fat Tuesday” – is a traditional day of binge drinking and celebration before the dark season of sacrifice to follow in the Catholic calendar. In New Orleans, festival-goers carry and throw beads – called “jets” – from the streets and balconies of the historic French Quarter.

Dillard University assistant professor of history, Dr Eva Baham, said the video showed that the traditions of marching bands and people lining the streets had not changed for more than a century, although she indicates that it was only later that people started casting beads. Baham said the images provide evidence of many New Orleans customs at that time, including dressing to go to Canal Street.

She highlighted the role that the most marginalized people played in helping the elite with both the parade and their lives, something that continues to this day. “You’ll see all of these same groups of people involved in putting on what is often called the biggest free show,” Baham said.

Shrove Tuesday is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, the time of reflection and abstinence in the Catholic calendar.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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