Swamps, Bayous, Marshes, Oh My! What’s the Difference?

Table of Contents

For those who are unfamiliar, it is very easy to lump together swamps, bayous, and marshes. While they may seem similar at first glance, they do have a few unique characteristics. 

What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are low-lying areas that are overly saturated with water, both permanently and seasonally. They typically contain hydric soils and aquatic vegetation. It is not uncommon for wetlands to have extended periods of dryness, but its water table is typically at the surface long enough to support aquatic plant life each year. 

Wetlands are considered one of the most biologically diverse and productive ecosystems in the world. They occupy an important transition zone between land and water and provide a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. They play a critical role in amphibian breeding grounds. Wetlands have several positive qualities: they are known to reduce flood peaks, serve as natural filters, control erosion, and recharge and discharge groundwater.

What is the difference between swamps, bayous, and marshes?

Swamps, bayous, and marshes all fall under the category of a wetland. While they are often viewed as interchangeable, they each serve a different function. 

Swamps

swamps Cajun Encounters

Swamps are defined as forested wetlands. They are typically next to larger rivers, including the Amazon and Mississippi, as they depend heavily upon their natural water level fluctuations.  Their water can vary, often including fresh, brackish, and sear water. Swamps are comparable to lowland forests, but the main difference lies in the water. Swamps typically have deeper standing water. They are also wetter for longer periods throughout the year.

 Swamps are often characterized by the dominant type of trees that can be found growing there. These trees have adapted over time in order to survive in standing water and constantly saturated dirt. Examples of these trees are cypress, cedar, and hardwood. These trees are often the names of swamps. For example, you may come across a hardwood swamp, according to National Geographic.

Bayous

swamps Cajun Encounters

Bayous are characterized as small, sluggish waterways. These marshey outlets often take the form of anabranches, a river or stream that diverts from the main channel of the water course and rejoins later downstream. Their currents have the ability to reverse, resulting in them carrying in brackish water. These outlets are often found in lowlands or swamps. Their water flow is generally so slow it is almost unnoticeable to those viewing it. As a result, they have a tendency to become boggy and stagnant. Bayous can be found crisscrossing across most of Louisiana. 

It is believed that Bayous gained their name from the Native American Choctaw Tribe. It is thought to originate from the word  “bayuk”, meaning “small stream”. No matter the origin, the word bayou was first used in English in Louisiana, which is why it is typically associated with Cajun culture.

Marshes

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A marsh is characterized by its consistent flooding of water from one source or another. Marshes are typically freshwater sources, and they often exist in areas with poor drainage. This can include stream beds, lakes, and ponds. Due to their constant state of wetness, their soil is extremely rich in nutrients. As a result, they have the ability to support a wide variety of plant and animal life. These plants have the ability to bind to the muddy soil, allowing the roots to slow the flow of water.  

Since saltwater marshes can be found along oceans, they have the ability to be tidal. As a result, there are three kinds of marshes: tidal freshwater marshes, tidal saltwater marshes, and inland freshwater marshes. Tidal freshwater marshes are often characterized by regularly occurring tidal flooding. This allows for an increase in nutrients, resulting in a more fertile and productive ecosystem. Tidal saltwater marshes are flooded and drained by saltwater, leading them to contain decomposing plant material which results in a decrease in oxygen levels. This allows for hypoxia, which produces the notorious “rotten egg” smell associated with these bodies of water. Inland freshwater marshes are found where the water table is very high, and their characteristics tend to vary depending on the location.

swamps Cajun Encounters

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

Invasive Species in the Honey Island Swamp

Invasive species are defined as non-indigenous organisms that negatively alter any new environments. These species have the ability to adapt easily and reproduce quickly. While they can have beneficial effects, these invasive species often cause ecological, environmental, and/or economical damage. These species can involve a variety of living organisms, ranging from plants and insects to fungus and bacteria.  

How are They Spread?

Invasive species spreading is typically caused by human activity. These non-indigenous species are often brought in with a purpose. For example, invasive species can be used as a form of pest control in many areas. However, these species can also be introduced through pets or decorative displays. These individuals often do not know how to handle these species, resulting in them releasing them in the wild. The spreading of these species can also be unintentional. Boats tend to carry aquatic organisms on the bottom of their boat or on their propellers

Invasive species can thrive in different environments for two main reasons. One being that they outcompete native species for food. Another reason is due to there being no predators that hunt them. Unfortunately, many of these invasive species can destroy habitats, putting other animals at risk. 

Four Invasive Species Found in the Honey Island Swamp

Out of the world’s 100 worst invasive species, there are four notable invasive species that reside in the Honey Island Swamp

1. Nutria

invasive species Cajun Encounters
Image credit: National Geographic Photo Ark

Coypu, more popularly known as Nutria, are large, web-footed rodents. They typically grow to between 17 to 25 inches long, ranging in the same size as raccoon. They resemble a mix between a small beaver and a giant rat.  

 Nutria’s ability to eat approximately 25% of their body weight and their rapid reproduction rate are a major risk factor to any environment that they call home. As a result, they are categorized as an invasive species. Nutria are not just physically invasive to their own environments. They host several diseases and parasites, including tuberculosis, tapeworm, liver flukes, and nematodes. As a result, many bodies of water have become contained by Nutria. This is a risk for anyone or thing that is swimming or drinking in these same areas.

2. Apple Snails

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Apple snails, otherwise known as ampullariidae, consist of a family of large freshwater species. They possess the ability to rapidly alter the ecological makeup of whatever environment they are introduced to. This is a direct result of their rapid eating styles and rapid growth rates, categorizing them as an invasive species. 

Apple Snails are considered opportunistic eaters. They can feast on a variety of things, including vegetation and smaller snail species. This can result in a drastic change in nutrient dynamics. Apple snails can change with the seasons, surviving in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. This allows them to lay eggs in a variety of locations, making it nearly impossible to contain them.

3. Wild Boar

invasive species Cajun Encounters

Perhaps one of the most loved animals on the Cajun Encounters Tour is the wild boar. Unfortunately, they fall under the category of invasive species. Wild boars are typically bulky built and short in stature, possessing short and thin legs. Their heads take up to one-third of their body’s entire length and showcase a mouth full of well-developed canine teeth. As omnivores, their diet is highly versatile. They typically consume up to 4,000 calories per day.

Wild boars are considered one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world.  Their wide range, high numbers, and adaptability is why they are considered invasive.  Along with these attributes, wild boars are known to host at least 20 different parasitic worm species and multiple parasites. These diseases not only affect wild boars themselves, but also humans and other animals.

4. Water Hyacinth

invasive species Cajun Encounters

Contrary to popular belief, water hyacinth is not a native Louisiana plant. While they are commonly found in multiple areas throughout the state, they are considered an invasive species. The water hyacinth consists of dark green, waxy leaves connected to a bulb-shaped petiole. Their roots have the ability to extend for 2-3 feet beneath, allowing them to start a completely new plant. Their size varies, ranging anywhere from 3 to 12 inches.

This plant is known for creating dense floating carpets on ponds, lakes, and bayous.  Ultimately, they block the sunlight from penetrating the water’s surface. As a result, submerged plants are often killed and oxygen levels decrease. In addition, their decaying leaves often drop off into the water. This results in an increase in sedimentation rates in the waterway.

invasive species Cajun Encounters

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

February 2021 New Orleans Events

The introduction of the second month of the year brings both the love of Valentines Days and celebration of Mardi Gras. After a year like 2020, New Orleans will not allow restrictions to stop their festive spirit. Whether online or in-person, there is a variety of February activities and attractions offered that is sure to pique your interest.

1. Art & Zen Online Meditation Series

Find peace in a time of chaos from the comfort of your own home with the Art and Zen online series. Hosted by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, this online meditation program is led by yoga and meditation instructor, Mikhayla Harrel, and is a perfect time to practice mindfulness inspired by Southern art.

This 30-minute program is held every Wednesday afternoon and is welcoming to all skill levels. Registration is free, but guest must register to participate. Each program requires its own separate registration, and it closes 30 minutes before the program begins.

2. Virtual Cooking Class

February New Orleans Events festive activities Cajun Encounters

Virtually visit New Orleans and get a taste of what this great city has to offer. On the 4th, 11thand 25thof February, the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute presents Gnocchi Together. This virtual cooking class series was created in the hopes to spark flavorful and original meal inspirations.  This class will not only be teaching guests adaptable recipes from a wide range of cuisines, but also essential techniques.

This program’s menu varies depending on which program is being attended at the time. Each registered participate will receive a grocery list, equipment list, and recipes no later than 1 week before the class starts, allowing for plenty of prep time. The class is free, but donations are welcome as they go towards culinary nonprofits and programs.

3. Creole Queen Sunday Jazz Brunch

February New Orleans Events festive activities Cajun Encounters

Take a trip down the mighty Mississippi River while indulging in the best brunch treats on the Creole Queen. Guest have the option of enjoying a meal in the appointed dining room or sipping a classic cocktail on the promenade deck while enjoy the views that only the city of New Orleans has to offer.

These rides are a weekly Sunday occurrence with prices varying with age of the participates.  For an additional payment of $20, however, guests can enjoy Bottomless Mimosas or Cajun Bloody Mary’s.

See for Yourself

February New Orleans Events festive activities Cajun Encounters

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

Mardi Gras 2021: New Orleans Mardi Gras Traditions

Traditions are labeled as a belief or tradition passed down within a group or society, such as putting up a tree on Christmas or eating turkey on Thanksgivings. These traditions often hold symbolic meanings or a special significance within its origins. Much like most major holidays, Mardi Gras has its own set of traditions that has been passed down for generations. From food to Krewes and everything in between, the traditions of Mardi Gras are guaranteed to be a good time.

Krewes

Considered one of the most well-known terms associated with Mardi Gras, Krewes are a social organization that hosts parades or balls for Carnival season. While some can be highly secretive and exclusive, Krewes can have open membership available for anyone who wishes to join. They can be formed by neighborhoods, general interest, and even involvement in the community.  

Krewe members are assessed fees, ranging in prices determined by size, that are put towards paying each groups parade and ball for the year. These fees often determine if members have to work to build the floats themselves or if professionals can be hired instead. While “super krewes” do not possess a official definition, they typically over 1000 active members and maintain at least 500 riders for each carnival.

Royalty

Where there is a krewe, there is usually royalty. Most krewes select a royal each year, consisting of a king, queen, dukes, and maids. The queen varies from krewe to krewe. In traditional all males krewe, the queen is usually a debutante; however, in all female krewes, a member is typically crowded as the queen.

“The King of Carnival” is anointed each year. Per tradition, the Krewe of Rex makes the selection, and the king is presented a symbolic key to the city by the mayor on Mardi Gras day.

Parades

With Carnival roots dating back as far as the Middle Ages, the first “official” Mardi Gras celebration took place in 1833. It all began when a wealthy landowner sponsored a “creole-style” celebration that was supervised by city officials. While they later became “official” celebrations, Mardi Gras celebrations have always possessed a rowdy and disorganized nature. By 1856, the modern parade era was born when the Mistick Krewe of Comus held a 2-float night parade.

The tradition of float riders throwing prizes, including candies and bon-bons and eventually glass beads, was enough to keep a large crowd coming out. As time went on, more krewes joined in the celebration, resulting in influx in parading in the 1950s. By 1958, parades moved in suburbs where that continued to pop up well into the 1970s.

Throws

Mardi Gras traditions Cajun Encounters

A “throw” is used as a collective term often used to describe objects that are thrown from floats to parade-goers. Glass beads were commonly used as throws up until the 1960’s when they were later switched to less expensive and more durable plastic beads. The plastic beads lower price point allowed for float riders to purchase greater qualities, resulting in throws becoming more common and greater in numbers.

In the 1990s, larger and more elaborate beads became the most sought-after throws after parade goers lost interest in the cheaper, smaller beads. As a result, krewes began to create limited edition beads and plush toys that were unique to their specific krewe. Today, parade goers are sure to catch a wide variety of items, including LED- powered prizes and soft toys, by simply yelling the popular phrase, “throw me something mister”.

Colors

In 1872, The Krewe of Rex began the traditions of colors with their parade theme “Symbolism of Colors” as a way to honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke, Alexi Alexandrovich Romanov. It is at this time that the official colors of Mardi Gras were determined to be purple, green, and gold. Each color possessed its own meaning, and the people of New Orleans were asked to showcases one of the three. Purple was a symbol for justice. Green symbolized faith, and gold holds the meaning of power.

While it is not fully known why three colors or these colors specifically were chosen, many have made their own theory. Errol Flynn Laborde, a famous local historian, concluded that three colors were chosen to represent a kingdom. As a result, it followed the same color pattern like other major flags, such as the United States and Great Britain. As for the colors, Laborde believes it came down to symbolism, making purple and gold an obvious choice, and green the best last option.

Masks

Mardi Gras traditions Cajun Encounters

While the tradition of wearing masks has dated back though different societies for centuries, Mardi Gras masks, like many other traditions, originated in ritual celebrations. Masks began as a way for its wearers to escape the tight constraints of society and social class. Carnival goers were given a new sense of freedom, allowing them to be who they wanted to be and interact with anyone despite class standings, by simply wearing a mask.

Today, masks are a major staple in Mardi Gras tradition. In fact, it is required by law for each float rider to wear a mask. On Fat Tuesday, everyone is allowed to wear masks if they please, adding to the air of excitement and magic that is seen throughout Mardi Gras traditions.

King Cake

Mardi Gras traditions Cajun Encounters
Image Credit: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/king-cake-recipe2-2122415

Starting on January 6th in honor of Epiphany, otherwise known as Twelfth Night, the tastiest Mardi Gras tradition begins. King Cakes are a sweet dough twisted into a round usually filled with cream or fruit and often topped with colored sugar or fruit. Typical Louisiana-styled cakes are usually decorated in well-known themed colors: purple, green, and gold.   

Twelfth Night marks the arrival of the three wise men, or kings, who delivered gifts to the baby Jesus. It is because of this that a plastic baby is hidden within king cakes today, representing a nod to this story. The tradition of hiding a small plastic baby was popularized in the 1950’s by a commercial bakery by the name of McKenzie. According to Mardi Gras traditions, the person who finds the hidden baby in their piece must host the next year’s celebration.

Flambeaux

Flambeaux is one Mardi Gras tradition that is believed to have blossomed well beyond its original practical purpose and into a revered art form. Flambeaux, or flaming torch, debut in 1857 as a way to light Carnival parades at night. Flambeaux began as a necessity, but soon evolved into a magical spectacle. Men carrying the torches began to dance while they would twirl and wave their sticks of fire, resulting in tips being thrown at these performers.

To keep this tradition alive, Mardi Gras krewes begin their parades with flambeaux out of respect for those that have come before them. While the torches have since received modern updates to keep their flames flowing all night, parade goers still offer tips to the performers.

Experience More Traditions

Mardi Gras traditions Cajun Encounters

The deep-rooted traditions of New Orleans culture, especially those seen during Mardi Gras, is keeps visitors coming back year after year. A little taste of the New Orleans spirit is never enough. If you find yourself in town and are looking for a little adventure that features a unique and up-close experience with local wildlife, look no further that Cajun Encounters.

Cajun Encounters is a great family-friendly experience with enough excitement to peak your attention. 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

Mardi Gras 2021: New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians

Of all the Mardi Gras traditions, the Mardi Gras Indians are perhaps the least recognized. Considered a highly secretive organization, their parade dates, times, and routes are never known in advanced, but they do tend to gather in the same few areas.  The mystery surrounding these krewes does not diminish their importance to the Mardi Gras tradition.

Origin

The organizations called “krewes” and their structural ranking of royalty, involving some form of a king, queen, knights, or captains, are extremely well-known throughout Mardi Gras traditions. Many of these well-known krewes were named after Greek or Roman mythology and often invitation only. As a result, many felt they could not participate in these well-known, typical New Orleans parades due to cultural separation.

Gradually, these left out neighborhoods began to develop their own style of celebrating, including krewes that were named from imaginary Native American tribes according to street locations. These krewes were named after native Indians in order to pay respect for those who accepted and assisted newly freed citizens into society. In 1885, Plains Indians marched in native dress on the streets of New Orleans, resulting in the first Mardi Gras Indian tribe to be formed later that year by the name of “The Creole Wild West”. 

Around 40 tribes participate in Mardi Gras celebrations, ranging in size from half a dozen to several dozen members. Some of the most well-known tribes include the Wild Magnolias, the Bayou Renegades, and the Golden Feather Hunters.

Suits

Mardi Gras Indians Cajun Encounters
Photo Credit: Jessica Simpson

Weighing upwards of one hundred pounds, the typical time it takes to design and create a suit usually takes between six to nine months. Each design in created by the Indian planning to wear it, containing elaborate beading and patch work in order to depict meaningful and symbolic scenes. Beads, feathers, and sequins are a major part of a typical Mardi Gras Indian suit, but suits main cultural customs can change depending on the tribes. The uptown New Orleans typically focus more on the sculptural and abstract aspect of African-inspired suits. Downtown tribes, however, tend to have more pictorial suits heavily influenced by Native Americans.

Suits are revealed on Super Sunday and often rival professional costume designers. It has been said that each suit costs around $5,000 in material each year, including up to 300 yards of down feathering trimming. Bead work is completely done by hand and feature a combination of color and texture, resulting in some of these suits being displayed in museums throughout the country.

Parades

Mardi Gras Indians Cajun Encounters
Photo Credit: Derek Bridges

There are many different roles that are played during a typical Mardi Gras Indian parade. Plain clothed informants stay several blocks ahead of the parade routes, serving as a look out for any danger. Each procession begins with “spyboys” typically dressed in light running suits. This allows them to have to freedom of mobility in case of emergencies while still dressed in traditional attire.

Following the “spyboys”, the “first flag” comes next in the lineup. This is usually an ornately dressed Indian that carries that token flag of their tribe. The final role following behind the first flag is the “Big Chief”, typically carrying the symbolic weapon. The “Big Chief” is in charge of deciding where the tribe goes and which other tribes to meet. These major roles are followed by the entire group, and the entire group is followed by percussionists and revelers. 

Today

Before, Mardi Gras was a violent day for many Mardi Gras Indians, typically used to settle scores. The traditions of mask wearing and large crowds only adding to the general confusion and often keeping families from joining in the celebrations. 

In today’s society, however, two tribe’s passing one another is a living example of art and culture. Each tribe’s displayed style and craftsmanship is put on display in a competitive and, most importantly, a friendly manner, allowing each other to compare their works. Their violent history no longer plays a part in this friendly celebration. While a part of their typical traditions includes one chief demanding the other to bow and pay respect, it eventually ends in both chiefs complementing each other’s craftmanship of their suits. Considering the thousands of dollars and hours that are invested into the creation of their own suit, it makes complete sense as to why they no longer risk ruining them in a fight.

While the tradition of Mardi Gras Indians is considered the least known or acknowledged of the Mardi Gras traditions, they are appreciated and seen as rich in folk art and history by many museums and societies around the world.  

Mardi Gras Indians Cajun Encounters

Mardi Gras bringing you to New Orleans? Don’t forget to stop and see all of what New Orleans has to offer. For those looking for a little adventure that features a unique and up-close experience with local wildlife, look no further than 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

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

Mardi Gras 2021: Mardi Gras Balls

While parades are one of the most known Mardi Gras traditions, grand and spectacular Mardi Gras balls hold a special place in Mardi Gras tradition. Balls are formal parties hosted by a specific krewe as a celebration for their members. As a city known for their extravagant parties, Mardi Gras balls are no different. These events often include costumes, dancing, music, food, and anything else needed to have a night fit for royalty.

About

Mardi Gras Balls Cajun Encounters
Image credit: https://www.neworleans.com/events/holidays-seasonal/mardi-gras/history-and-traditions/mardi-gras-balls/

In the 19thcentury, the elite of Carnival organizations began searching for a way to evoke a world of romance and chivalry during a time of reconstruction. As a result, these members began acting out aristocratic fantasies based on the style of royal courts and palaces of Old Europe, resulting in the creation of Mardi Gras balls.

Mardi Gras balls often involve rituals and intricate codes that have been passed down through history. Majority of Mardi Gras balls are private affairs, often needing invitations to even attend. Original invitations were die-cut and printed in Paris, making them a hot commodity. So hot that sometimes prominent figures do not even make the cut, including governors, making people feel less left out when not receiving invitations. Today, invitations can be considered valuable works of art, resulting in colorful and beautiful designs often being framed as collectors’ items.

Mardi Gras Balls can be considered social climbing events, resulting in a lavish affair. Ball gowns are a must for women attendees. Debutantes, making their formal introduction into society, hoped to be issued a “call-out” card. These cards result in a dance with an attending male member.

The highlight of the evening including the cutting of the Mardi Gras cake, otherwise known as the Gateau de Rois. Tradition states that whoever finds the bean in their piece of cake would have to host the next ball. As a result, Mardi Gras balls are full of good food and good times.

History

Mardi Gras Balls Cajun Encounters
Image Credit: https://www.neworleans.com/events/holidays-seasonal/mardi-gras/history-and-traditions/mardi-gras-balls/

It is believed that the first ball was held by the Mistick Krewe of Comus in the year of 1857. This ball was held at the Gaiety Theatre, later called the Varieties Theatre, up until 1868 when it moved to the new Varieties Theatre.

The first Krewe of Rex balls began in 1873 and were held in the Exposition Hall until 1906. In 1907, Rex began to hold its ball at The Athenaeum when this tradition continued until 1929. This ball marks the only appearance of Enrico Caruso, legendary tenor, in June of 1920.

In the later years, Comus began to hold its balls at the French Opera House. In 1882, the Rex Krewe visited Comus near midnight, resulting in a custom that is still seen today. It is believed that approximately 137 balls are held each year, beginning always on January 6th with the Twelfth Night Ball.

Tableaux

Tableau Vivant, otherwise known as “living picture”, is known as setting a group of costumed individuals in carefully arranged static poses within a set and its related props. Its purpose often serves as a way to illustrate popular mythological stories, paintings, and even known events, including archetypal, classical, and historical.

On February 2ndof 1857, the best of Louisiana’s society gathered at the Gaiety Theatre anxiously waiting for the start of the tableau ball. Its grandeur and vivid imagination would soon stun a city already accustomed to the most fabulous of balls. The Mistik Krewe of Comus presented its guests with four tableaux: Tartus, The Expulsion, The Conference of Satan and Beelzebub, and a bare stage. Each tableaux showcased a visual depiction of a mythological story.

While the tradition of tableau has slowly been lost since the uprising of other popular, more sought-after Mardi Gras traditions, The New Orleans Society of Tableau Vivant pays homage to this creative tradition.

Mardi Gras Balls Cajun Encounters

Mardi Gras Balls still play a major role in the tradition of Mardi Gras today. With the introduction of the infamous COVID-19 virus, however, these special events have been put on hold until further notice, but this unfortunate development will not keep the resilient people of New Orleans down.

New Orleans is still offering attractions that are sure to keep those who are missing Mardi Gras entertained. For those looking for a little adventure that features a unique and up-close experience with local wildlife, Cajun Encounters is the best place to start.

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 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

Mardi Gras 2021: Popular Parades of New Orleans

by Kaylan Courteaux

When thinking of the festivities of Mardi Gras, parades are usually the first thing that comes to mind. Parades are procession of people, often in costumes, who are accompanied by marching bands, floats, and sometimes balloons. Parades can take on different means depending on the mood, but in the city of New Orleans they are always seen as a form of celebration when Mardi gras season rolls around. While New Orleans has an abundance of parades to choose from, if you are on a time crunch the following parades are the ones you must see.

Rex

Since the creation of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Krewe of Rex has been setting the standards for parades. As a classic parade, Rex is known for using original designs to bring to life its chosen themes, usually centered around literature. It’s signature features often involving the Butterfly King and a throne for Rex himself. As the longest running parade, Rex is seen as the most authentic and traditional parade that New Orleans has to offer. 

Zulu

Originally made to give black New Orleanians a parade of their own, Zulu is seen as one of the favorites among carnival goers. It is most-known for their coconuts throws, considered one of the most coveted throws in all of the Mardi gras season.

Endymion

Popular New Orleans Parades Cajun Encounters
Image Credit: https://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades/krewe-of-endymion

Holding the motto is “Throw ‘til it Hurts”, it is no wonder The Krewe of Endymion draws a crowd of over 30 thousand parade-goers. With over 3,000 masked riders, Endymion holds the title of the biggest parade of the carnival season and is estimated to toss out more than 15 million throws. As the only parade to march along Canal Street, Endymion is a weekend-long social event often involving big names or celebrity events.

Thoth

Making its way through New Orleans for over 70 years, the Krewe of Thoth parade contains approximately 1,600 rides spanning over 50 floats. As a result, it is ranked the second biggest parades in New Orleans, just after the famous Endymion. This krewe often is seen with an Egyptian motif within the first few floats.

Bacchus

Popular New Orleans Parades Cajun Encounters
Image Credit: http://www.kreweofbacchus.org/floats/signature-floats/

The Krewe of Bacchus is known for breaking Carnival tradition and hosting a Sunday night parade. This parade showcased floats that were bigger and more spectacular than anything previously seen. As if that was not enough, they were the first to use a national celebrity as their king to lead the parades. With more than 1,600 members spanning over 32 animated super-floats, this super krewe is considered one of the most spectacular in carnival history.

Orpheus

Popular New Orleans Parades Cajun Encounters
Image Credit: https://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades/krewe-of-orpheus

Orpheus is one of the prettiest parades of the Carnival season.  Since its creation in 1994, it has used design elements of the old-line groups. Its most notable floats including Dolly Trolley and the Smoking Mary. With over 700 members, Orpheus falls under the category of super krewe with Endymion and Bacchus, and it was the first super krewe to allow both male and female riders. One of their most sough-after items include four-foot-long stuffed dragons.

Proteus

The Krewe of Proteus is prefect for those who are less concerned with the throws and more interested in the history of carnival. Proteus is the second-oldest krewe in Carnival history and still used the original 1880’s chassis in todays floats. It is the only surviving nighttime 19thcentruy parade, making it a historic preservation of design and tradition.  

Muses

Popular New Orleans Parades Cajun Encounters
Image Credit: https://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades/krewe-of-muses

Having only begun in the year 2000, the Krewe of Muses quickly cemented itself as a fan favorite during carnival season. As a female-only krewe, Muses has played a major role in expanding female participation, and their humorous and biting parade themes are consistent in drawing a crowd. Their throws often consist of decorated high-heeled shoes and logo cups designed by students in the surrounding area.

Popular New Orleans Parades Cajun Encounters

Mardi Gras parades are seen as a celebration and visitors and locals alike anticipate their arrival all year. Unfortunately, new and old parade-goers must wait a little bit longer to experience the excitement that follow these events. With the development of the COVID-19 virus, many parades have been cancelled to help prevent the spread of the virus. However, some parades have just postponed their celebrations until later in the year. Be sure to check the developing schedules to attend one of the memorable parades above.

Like most catastrophic events, COVID-19 has done little to break the residents of New Orleans spirit. New Orleans is still keeping their hopes high and offering COVID-19 safe attractions that are sure to keep those who are missing Mardi Gras entertained. For those looking for a little adventure that features a unique and up-close experience with local wildlife, look no further than Cajun Encounters.

Guests are able to experience the beauty of one of the most untarnished ecosystems in America first-hand. 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

New Orleans January 2021 Events

Out with the old and in the new, it is time for us to welcome in a new year. After the introduction of the infamous COVID-19, I am sure we are all ready to leave 2020 in the past. The end of the year, however, does not mean the end of the virus that changed our world so drastically. As a result, New Orleans is striving to keep their spirits high and provide fun events that are not only entertaining, but also safe for those who wish to join.

1. Southern Design Week

New Orleans January Events 2021 Cajun Encounters
Image Credit: https://www.neworleans.com/event/southern-design-week/3334/

Beginning every first day of January, Southern Fashion Week, previously known as Nola Fashion Week, is hosted by the Southern Coalition of Fashion & Design. This is biannual event and serves as an opportunity for southern based apparel designers to show off their work. The week involves several events that are held at various locations throughout the city, including runway shows, presentations, cocktail parties, and so much more.

2. Art and Zen Online Mediation Series

Find a piece of mindfulness in this chaos without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home. Every Wednesday at noon, you can join an online mediation program hosted by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and instructed by Mikhayla Harrell.

All levels of experience are welcomed to join, but a free registration is required.

3. Beading Classes with Queen Angel of the 8th Ward Black Semioles

New Orleans January Events 2021 Cajun Encounters
Image Credit :https://www.neworleans.com/event/beading-classes-with-queen-angel-of-the-8th-ward-black-seminoles/53846/

Test your creativity with Queen Angel, of the 8thWard Black Seminoles, and her beading classes. While 3 out of 4 classes offered have already been completed, don’t miss out on her final class in sequins on January 9th. All material is provided, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own lunch to enjoy in the courtyard.

The final class will be held from 10 AM to 1 PM and open to guests that are 10 years of age or older. Each class requires a fee of $25, including beading material, and implements COVID-19 safety measures.

New Orleans January Events 2021 Cajun Encounters

While many events have been postponed or cancelled, Cajun Encounters is always open and ready for those who wish to experience a little adventure outside of daily norms. Guests can travel down the Honey Island Swamp, experiencing 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

Don’t miss out on the experience of a lifetime. Reserve your tickets today before they’re gone to guarantee your spot.

Got a taste of the excitement that New Orleans has to offer and searching for more? 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

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.

New Orleans Mardi Gras festive Cajun Encounters

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

New Orleans Mardi Gras festive Cajun Encounters

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!