Mardi Gras 2021: History

After Christmas ends, the festive season has just begun in New Orleans. Considered a major holiday, Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout the whole state of Louisiana. Much like New Orleans, the history of Mardi Gras is deep and intricate, making it as interesting as it is colorful.

Origins

The origin of Mardi Gras goes back further than New Orleans, tracing back to medieval Europe and traveling through Venice and Rome in the 17thand 18thcentury. It was around this time that “Beouf Gras”, otherwise known as the fatted calf, and the celebrations that surround it made its way to France.

In March of 1699, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, a French-Canadian explorer, arrived at plot of land just 60 miles south of New Orleans. Upon arrival, Bienville and his men realized it was the eve of the well-known holiday, resulting in him naming the land “Pointe du Mardi Gras”. By the 1730’s, Mardi Gras was an openly celebrated holiday in the city of New Orleans. The parades, however, varied form how we known them today. In the early 1740’s, lavish society balls were established by Marquis de Vaudreuil, the governor of Louisiana. These became the blueprint for the modern New Orleans Mardi Gras balls.

By the arrival of the 1830’s, New Orleans had begun the tradition of street processions and maskers with horseback riders and carriages. It is around this time that “flambeaux”, the use of gaslight torches, became known. Flambeaux was used as a way to light the path for krewe members, adding an air of excitement and romance to the festivities.

Twelfth Night Revelers and Their Impact

In 1870, the Twelfth Night Revelers was formed in New Orleans, making it the second-oldest Carnival organization. TNR hosted its first parade and ball on January 6, 1870 and continued until 1876 when it became a ball-only krewe. It is believed by many that the Twelve Night Revelers introduced many present-day Carnival customs.

One major contribution being “throws”. In 1871, The Twelfth Night Revelers showcased a float rider with a rider dressed as Santa Claus tossing trinkets into the crowd. This cemented them in history as the first recorded throws. As a result, they helped introduce and popularize the custom this Mardi Gras tradition. The Twelfth Nights Revelers are also believed to be the first to introduce debutantes as the queens and maids in its royal courts.

After the Twelfth Night Revelers, newspapers began announcing Mardi Gras events in advance, and it was not long before the “Carnival Edition” was produced soon after. This edition included lithographs of the already premiered float designs since they were kept a secret until the procession.  These visual aspects began as small with hardly any details, but later became larger with more detail and added color in 1886. These intricate float and costume designs were straight from the imagination of Carlotta Bonnecase, Charles Briton, and B.A. Wikstrom and brought to life by Georges Soulie, a Parisian paper-mâché artist. Soulie was responsible for creating all of the Carnival’s floats and processional outfits for 40 years.

Experience More

If Mardi Gras brings you to New Orleans, don’t be afraid to stop and take a look around. Looking for a little adventure that features a unique and up-close experience with local wildlife?  Cajun Encounters is exactly what you have been searching for. Guests are able to experience the beauty of one of the most untarnished ecosystems in America first-hand, and, if that is not enough, there are plenty of educational opportunities to learn about the plants and animals that inhabit it. Guests are guaranteed the best educational experience possible with trained experts as their guides. Cajun Encounters is working hard to ensure not only the satisfaction but also the safety of its visitors by implementing proper COVID-19 protocol

Be sure to book in advance to ensure your spot. You do not want to miss out on this incredible experience.

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

SEC Traditions: Cajun Encounters

Traditions are customs or beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation, and traditions are very much alive in SEC country. SEC Traditions, hosted by Marty Smith from ESPN, chronicles these traditions that fuel the love for outdoors throughout these areas.

Cajun Encounters owner Jeff Rogers was delighted to host Marty Smith for an episode of SEC Traditions, sharing his wealth of knowledge gained from being born and raised in the Honey Island Swamp of Louisiana.

Cajun Encounters immerses guests from around the world into Louisiana’s beautiful, vast, and mysterious Honey Island Swamp by offering New Orleans swamp tours that are entertaining, eco-sensitive and educational. No one does New Orleans swamp and bus tours like Cajun Encounters, so if you find yourself in New Orleans, make your trip unforgettable and allow us to show you around the Crescent City.

Book a tour today with Cajun Encounters!

 

New Orleans City Tours: Tremé

Originally known as the “back of town”, Tremé is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans. Treme, often referred to as Faubourg Tremé, is an important focal point in African-American and Creole culture, housing jazz clubs and soul food spots. It is considered a place where heritage is celebrated and honored every day.

History

Image credit: https://www.neworleans.com/plan/neighborhoods/treme/

Tremé began as a plantation in the 1700’s. By 1810, its owner, Claude Tremé, subdivided this land and then sold it to the city of New Orleans, allowing several free people of color and those of European descent to claim this land as their home. The city designated a portion of the land as a place for residents to gather, play music, and sell goods. This place of cultural incubation later gained the name of Congo Square. Tremé is the home of some of the historically richest Creole architecture throughout the whole city of New Orleans. The vibrant color cottages date back as early as the 1830’s, the townhouses were built soon after in the 1840’s, and the more recent shotgun houses were formed in the 1890’s.

Not only the home to historic housing, Tremé features two well-known green spaces. Louis Armstrong Park sits on 32-acres and features the statues of several musical icons, including its namesake Louis Armstrong and Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Montana. It is in Louis Armstrong Park that visitors can find the original site of the famous Congo Square. A 2.6-mile bicycle and walking trail by the name of Lafitte Greenway can also be found in Tremé, nearly spanning the whole neighborhood and featuring over 500 trees as well as several open fields.

Unfortunately, Tremé suffered from damage during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but like most neighborhoods in New Orleans it refused to admit defeat. Tremé, and other older neighborhoods, showcased that their strength lies in their infrastructure and higher ground levels. Day by day it returns to its original beauty and popularity, becoming an example of survival. Today, Tremé spans over roughly 150 square blocks and an estimated 4,155 individuals live there.

St. Augustine Church

Image credit: https://staugchurch.org/media

The St. Augustine Church that was found in 1841 by free people of color can also be found in Tremé, resulting in it being the home of one of the oldest African-American Catholic parishes in the nation. This church was designed by J.N.B de Pouilly, who had to opportunity to assist with the rebuilding and expansion of the famous St. Louis Cathedral located in the well-known French Quarter. It features The Tomb of the Unknown Slave, a monument for the many nameless or forgotten salves that passed away before emancipation.

The interior design featured inside St. Augustine can be considered one of its most historical notable features. The pew date back to the mid-nineteenth century, and the main altar is centuries old and made of pink Italian marble. Above the alter, a skylight in the shape of the “eye of God” Egyptian symbol can be found. The ten stained glass windows seen within the church were imported from France and feature five male saints and five female saints respectively. While the church does feature electronic bells, St. Augustine also houses three bells that were cast in 1883 and purchased in 1894.

New Orleans African American Museum

While exploring Tremé, visitors can stop by The New Orleans African American Museum of Art, History, and Culture (NOAAM). This museum was founded in 1996 and dedicated to protecting, preserving, and promoting of African-Americans in New Orleans through education, art, and communities. Visitors can observe traditional African collections, including beadwork, costumes, masks, and textiles. While the museum does feature permanent exhibits, other exhibits are subject to charge regularly.

Guests have to option to visit five restored buildings. One of these buildings includes the Meilleur-Goldthwaite House, a perfect example of popular Creole architecture. While the museum’s main operation is located in the administrative building, NOAAM hopes to eventually reopen the whole historic campus. Since its reopening in 2019, NOAAM has seen over 4,000 guests and hosted 45 events.

Take a Trip to Tremé

Experience first-hand what keeps not only tourist but also locals continuously coming back to the place by the name of Tremé. Immerse yourself into the sound and breathtaking views that makes New Orleans culture so unique. Cajun Encounters is dedicated to showing enthusiastic customers the best of what New Orleans has to offer from the comfort of climate-controlled buses. Guests can learn more about the city of New Orleans, including Tremé, from certified tour guides, ensuring historically accurate and educational information with an entertaining twist.

 

Cajun Encounters City Bus Tours offers tours at three different times of day. The morning tour includes daily pick ups at 8:30 am and offers guests a look into that historic cities, including the experience of coffee and beignets for breakfast.  The mid-day tour begins at 11:15 am daily and offers a complete city tour, including a drive through the 9th ward. The afternoon tour begins daily pick ups at 2:30 pm and offers a full city tours, lasting for two and a half hours.

Guests can travel down New Orleans’ most well-known neighborhoods, including Tremé and the Garden District, while seeing famous attractions like Café Du Monde, the St. Louis Cathedral and Cemetery No. 1, and the World War II Museum. Those hoping to learn more about the history of New Orleans can view the famous St. Charles Avenue Street Cars, beautiful Antebellum Mansions, and the mighty Mississippi River.

Routes includes stops that allow guests to have a closer look of certain locations. 

 

To ensure guests safety during these trying times, tour sizes are limited and tour times are reduced to allow for proper disinfection between tours. High touch surfaces, such as seats and railings, are sanitized multiple times per day. Hand sanitizer is provided on location, and masks are worn by each staff member and are available for guests who wish to wear one.

 

Buy your tickets and start exploring today by visiting https://www.cajunencounters.com/tours/city-bus-tour/ or calling 504.834.1770.

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

New Orleans December 2020 Events

December is a time when things just seem brighter. As a season associated with tasty treats, nice weather, and celebrations, it’s no wonder that New Orleans goes all out for the last month of the year. With the introduction of Covid-19, the general public was left wondering when things would return to normal. New Orleans has worked hard to ensure that the holiday spirit remains alive while abiding by the CDC guidelines. Below, you will find a list of events that are both family and Covid-19 friendly.

1. Celebration in the Oaks

Image credit: https://www.neworleans.com/event/celebration-in-the-oaks/3721/

Known as the most spectacular holiday lights festival in the country, Celebration in the Oaks will not let COVID 19 keep them from celebrating their 35th anniversary. From November 26th to January 3rd, visitors can view City Park covered in a million twinkling lights and filled with breathtaking light displays from the safety and comfort of their own car, spanning over 2.25 miles. For those searching for a little extra Christmas spirit, Christmas in the Oaks offers extra add-on activities at the Carousel Gardens. For an extra charge, guests can go on a train ride, drink hot chocolate, roast marshmallows, visit Storyland, and have access to photo areas.

Prices are based upon dates, times, and the size of visitor’s vehicles. As a result, prices range from $18.99 to $175. Event times vary throughout the week. Sunday through Thursday offer times from 6pm to 10pm, and Friday and Saturday offer times from 5pm to 11pm.

2. Cookies with Santa & the Belles

From December 5th to December 20th, The National WWII Museum will host Cookies with Santa & the Belles. This family friendly event will allow young guests to be entertained by the Victory Belles, a delightful vocal trio that performs the music of the 2940s, while playing holiday games. The night will include a visit from Santa Claus, gifting special teddy bears to each child.

This is an hour-long program. Cost of admission is $50 per person, but guest under the age of 2 can enter for free. The National WWII Museum abides by the Covid-19 CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of their guests and performers.

3. Santa’s Pajama Party

Create a new family tradition at the Royal Sonesta hotel this Christmas. As a part of their Royal Snownesta celebration, children can deliver their wish list to Santa himself and visit with the Sugarplum Fairy Princess while wearing their favorite holiday pajamas. Several treats are offered, including hot chocolate, apple cider, and a variety of food, that guests can munch on while decorating their very own cookies.

This event will be held sporadically between the days of December 5th to December 20th. The length of each seating is 9:30-11:00AM and 12:30-2:00PM. Adult admission is $65 per person, but $45 for those under the age of 12.  

4. Greenway Supernova

Image credit: https://www.neworleans.com/event/supernova-on-the-greenway/53821/

Presented by the Friends of Lafiette Greenway and NORD, guest can experience a free outdoor light-based art exhibit throughout the month of December. It will showcase 10 luminary works of art, featuring two permanent and 8 temporary works. Supernova serves as a way to drive foot-traffic to the local businesses that were severely affected by Covid-19.

This exhibition will occur on December 9th to December 20th on Wednesdays through Sundays from 5:00PM to 9:00PM. This event allows for social distancing.

Experience More

Got a taste of what New Orleans has to offer and looking for more hands-on experiences? Those who wish to experience a little adventure that out of the typical norm can travel down the Honey Island Swamp with Cajun Encounters. Guests are able to experience the beauty of one of the most untarnished ecosystems in America first-hand, and, if that is not enough, there are plenty of educational opportunities to learn about the plants and animals that inhabit it. Guests are guaranteed the best educational experience possible with trained experts as their guides. Cajun Encounters is working hard to ensure not only the satisfaction but also the safety of its visitors by implementing proper COVID-19 protocol

New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours is the perfect place to see the best that the city has to offer historically and culturally. With tours through the cemeteries, French Quarter, and Garden District, visitors are able to immerse themselves in an experience that only the Crescent City has offer. Guests can learn more about the city of New Orleans from certified tour guides, ensuring historically accurate and informative information with an entertaining twist. Similarly, to Cajun Encounters, New Orleans Legendary Walking Tours takes its visitors health and safety as their top priority. As a result, they have also implemented COVID-19 protocol to ensure their visitors can experience the best without fear. 

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199