All things Mard Gras

In the Lake Area














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Mardi Gras:  “An occasion of great festivity and merrymaking.

[French : Mardi, Tuesday + gras, fat (from the feasting on Mardi gras before Lenten fasting).”


The celebration of Mardi Gras season has evolved over the centuries, with each culture adding its own unique rituals. The New Orleans tradition, borrowing heavily from European influences, is believed to have begun in the 1870's. Because the Mardi Gras season always starts of the 6th of January, but ends early or late, depending on the date of Easter, the season length varies significantly.


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Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, is twelve days after Christmas and always occurs on the 6th day of January. It symbolizes the day that the three kings arrived to honor the birth of Christ. For revelers, it marks the official beginning of the Mardi Gras season. In Lake Charles, it is traditionally celebrated at the Civic Center with the presentation of the currently reining Kings, Queens and Captains from the Lake Area Krews. The festivities include King Cake (get a baby and win a prize), drawings with prizes, and a dance afterward.


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King Cakes are the traditional treat of Mardi Gras. Their purple, green and gold colors are the colors of Mardi Gras representing Justice, Faith and Power. The King Cake is believed to have originated in France around the 12th century where early Europeans celebrated the coming of the three wise men. The main part of the celebration was the baking of a King Cake to honor the three Kings. The cakes were made circular to portray the circular route used by the Kings to get to the Christ Child and confuse King Herod, who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ Child. A bean, pea or coin, was hidden inside these early King Cakes. The person who got the hidden piece was declared King for the day, or was said to have good luck in the coming year. Today King Cake Parties are held, not just on twelfth night, but through the Mardi Gras Season. A small plastic baby, representing the Christ Child, has come to replace the bean or pea. Often a series of King Cake Parties are conducted with the person getting the baby in their piece of cake, providing the King Cake for the next party.


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The Lake Charles Mardi Gras Gala is usually held the on the Monday before Fat Tuesday.  It is traditionally celebrated at the Civic Center with the presentation of the Krewe Captains and their newly coronated  Kings, Queens and royal courts. More than forty Lake Area Krews usually  participate in this event.


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Fat Tuesday, or the day of Mardi Gras, may occur on any Tuesday from February 3rd to March 9th. It occurs the day before Ash Wednesday and is always 46 days before Easter.


Fat Tuesday will occur on the following dates:


2007 February 20

2008 February 5

2009 February 24

2010 February 16

2011 March 8

2012 February 21

2013 February 12

2014 March 4

2015 February 17

2016 February 9

2017 February 26

2018 February 13

2019 March 5

2020 February 25


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The Krewe of Krewe’s Parade is the grand fanally of the Lake Area Mardi Gras season. With virtually all of the Area Krewes participating, the three and one-half mile parade starts at the Civic center, proceeds down Broad and Ryan Street, and ends just short of McNeese University. Thousands of spectators, young and old, big and small, line the parade route jockeying for “throws” of beads, cups, stuffed animals and the occasional package of  Moon Pies.




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