We jumped on the ferry (again) today and headed over to Mardi Gras World, a working warehouse where bigger than life figures of all kinds are made for the parade floats that showcase the Mardi Gras celebration. Many floats are over 100 feet long and are rebuilt each year with a different theme.
Most of the ornaments or figures, called props, are made of Styrofoam glued together in layers and then formed and sculptured with electric kitchen knives, razors, and sandpaper. Then crepe paper is applied for smoothness and the objects are ready for painting. The warehouses, twelve in all, house over 20,000 “props” that make up the 300 plus floats used in the 52 parades that are conducted each year during the 12 day Mardi Gras celebration period.
Once “Crewe” members board their floats for a parade, the doors to the float are screwed shut so no one can leave. Crewe members could be aboard their floats for as long as ten hours. Newer floats today have porta-potties on both the upper and lower levels. Crewe members are also attached to a cable for safety measures while throwing beads and other souvenir objects to people that line the city streets to celebrate Mardi Gras. All parades and events are family orientated except for Bourbon Street where adult bad behavior is tolerated to a point.
At the end of the tour we were treated to a piece of King’s Cake, a European, southern white cake with rich frosting served during holiday period. Each cake has a small trinket inside, often a small plastic baby said to represent Baby Jesus, and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations during the celebration period. And no, we did not get the plastic baby, boo hoo.
After the tour we headed over to the “Central Grocery” for one of their famous muffuletta sandwiches. Central Grocery is a small, old-fashioned Italian grocery store with a sandwich counter in the French Quarter. It’s been there since 1906 and maintains it old world charm even today. Tourists and locals flood the place each day for the muffuletta sandwich that is world famous and has been featured on PBS and The Today Show. It’s made with a special Italian bread baked fresh daily, wonderful Italian salami, baked ham, cheese, and a special olive salad topping. Everything blends together and makes your taste buds dance with joy…