Mardi Gras Around the World Series
Mardi Gras festivities are open to families, offering the perfect alternative. Celebrating Mardi Gras since 1874, Pensacolians host four parades every year featuring masked characters, fun throws and elaborate floats that sail along the area’s beaches. And, with temperatures typically in the mid 60s, there is plenty of Florida sunshine to go around.
This Mardi Gras season, visitors and locals are invited to attend the newest parade in the Pensacola Bay Area – the Mardi Gras March Off. On Jan. 21, more than 30,000 people are expected to hit the streets of downtown Pensacola for not only an extremely competitive marching band contest, but also to break the Guinness World Record for largest line dance.
This new family-friendly parade, created by Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc., will bring nine high school marching bands to Pensacola to show off their musical talents in the heart of downtown. After the bands march down Palafox Street, they will stop in a designated performance area to perform for professional adjudicators who will score them on their sound, look and crowd appeal for a chance to win more than $10,000 in prizes. Among the marching bands will be 25 of Pensacola’s best-decorated Mardi Gras floats and krewes tossing great throws and having a great time.
Around 3 p.m., the parade will come to a temporary halt as the crowd attempts to break the current world record for largest line dance. The record is currently held by Atlanta, where 17,500 people have participated in one massive line dance.
If you happen to miss the march off, be sure to attend the Mardi Gras Mall Ball at Cordova Mall on Jan. 28. On this night, the mall will be completely transformed into a massive ballroom, as attendees enjoy live music, delicious snacks from local restaurants and a silent auction in each wing. This annual bash is hosted by the Krewe of Les Petits Enfants (the order of the small children) and has generated more than $2 million in proceeds to the kids at Sacred Heart Hospital. This event is for the 21 and older crowd – sorry kids!
So, grab the family and head downtown to be a part of the first-ever Mardi Gras March Off and a record-breaking line dance, or put on your gowns and tuxes, and enjoy a night of festivities, music and treats at the annual Mall Ball.
- Wind Creek 12th Night Mardi Gras Kick Off Celebration. Jan. 6. At 7 p.m., join Pensacola Mardi Gras crews and their kings and queens for a big celebration and locally made king cakes. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Mardi Gras Marching Madness Parade. Jan. 21. Beginning at 2 p.m., enjoy the sounds of marching bands as they parade downtown, stopping at the corner of Garden Street and Palafox Place to perform for judges. Bands will be competing to win more than $10,000 in prizes. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Cordova Mall Ball. Jan. 28. This annual bash hosted by the Krewe of Les Petits Enfants (the order of the small children) benefits the kids at Sacred Heart Hospital. Cordova Mall is transformed into a ballroom at this event open to the public. Tickets are $50. (850) 416-4660, www.sacred-heart.org/mallball
- Mardi Gras Boat Parade Flotilla. Feb. 4. Join the Pirates of Lost Treasure at 10:30 a.m. on Perdido Key as the Mardi Gras Flotilla makes its way from Hub Stacey to the Perdido Key Oyster Bar and back to the Flora-Bama for live music, a best-decorated boat contest and happening after-party. Free admission. (850) 492-4660, www.visitperdido.com
- Mardi Gras Kid and Kritter Krawl. Feb. 11. Bring your children and favorite four-legged friends out to Pensacola Beach for a lively walking parade. Free Admission. (850) 932-1500, www.pensacolabeachchamber.com
- Snowbird’s Mardi Gras Lunch. Feb. 15. Snowbirds are invited to enjoy a breakfast of coffee and beinets or a lunch of red beans and rice at Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola. Registration is required. Free admission. (850) 434-1234, www.visitpensacola.com/snowbirds
- Mardi Gras Downtown Illuminated Parade. Feb. 17. Starting at 8 p.m., admire the gorgeous lighted floats as they make their way down Palafox Place and through historic downtown Pensacola. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Pensacola Downtown Grand Parade. Feb. 18. With most of the area’s krewes participating, you won’t want to miss the largest, and most popular, parade in downtown Pensacola beginning at 2 p.m. For even more fun, follow the masked characters down to Seville Quarter for a festive after-party. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Pensacola Beach Mardi Gras Parade. Feb. 19. Starting at 2 p.m., line the streets, dip your toes in the sand and listen to the waves crash on the beach behind you as this parade cruises along Via De Luna Drive on Pensacola Beach. Free admission. (850) 438-1500, www.pensacolabeachchamber.com
- Fat Tuesday Priscus Procession. Feb. 21. Revelers of all ages enjoy the last parade of the Mardi Gras season before lent begins. Located on Palafox and Government Streets. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
LSU didn’t show up for their game, a real shame, but that’s the way the football bounces. We are left with our record setting New Orleans Saints, now heading to San Francisco, California to face the 49ers for round 2 Saturday, January 14 @ 3:30 pm CST. Hopefully, both teams will show up and our Saints will win!!
King cake season is upon us and you can buy a decent king cake around the metro area at every grocery, bakery, and most pharmacies and convenience stores. There are plenty of personal and cupcake size king cakes available.
I’ve been in touch with my Krewe du Vieux, on krewe matters most important, since we roll February 4th. I sure love being part of a bigger part of Mardi Gras than just my extremely popular Mardi Gras Blog.
It’s still possible to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Mardi Gras parades. It’s not easy, but it can be done. When parading down St. Charles avenue, convention rules, since the New Orleans City Council creates the rules for major parades. If you want to parade and do your own thing, that’s more than possible though it’s a ton of work; hence Krewe du Vieux, ‘tit REX, Krewe of St. Anne, Krewe of Chewbaccus, etc. Most of these are in the Bywater, 7th ward, or Marigny. Most roll on Fat Tuesday, and most are really fabulous. Kolossos is headquartered in and will march in Marigny and Bywater.
The spanking new Krewe of Kolossos is seeking to “create a new breed of parade,” utilizing tradition while drawing on ideas of environmental sustainability and reuse, art director Steven Donnelly said.
The idea for the krewe came from a partnership with grand marshal-elect Karina Nathan, the artist a.k.a. Katrina Brees. Donnelly’s drum cart creation, a mobile performance art drum show and Nathan’s Bearded Oysters, an all female marching and social group. Both share a love of a good party, and Kolossos was formed with this in mind.
The krewe has around 200 members. While the membership is open, the majority of members are artists, including sculptors, costumiers, performance artists, etc.
‘Tit Rex changed its name to ‘Tit Rəx, inverting their ‘e’. What is ‘tit Rəx? The World’s First Mardi Gras Microkrewe, Social Aid & Pleasure Club…. and Live Miniature Parade. ‘Tit stands for Petite Rəx, since they have all miniature floats and throws.
The reason for the name change was continued interference from the mighty King of Carnival, the School of Design’s Krewe of REX. Somehow, someway, in REX’s infinite wisdom, they consider ‘tit Rəx to be an infringement of their REX copyright. I think they are mixing apples and oranges. REX offered them a ten year deal for $5.00/year, but ‘tit Rəx rejected the deal because of potentially restrictive clauses about the size and nature of the ‘tit Rəx parade.
They march on Poland Avenue at 5:30 pm on February 11. 2012 theme- Napoleon Avenue Complex. Rex parades on Fat Tuesday, February 21 at 10 am on the uptown route, starting from their dens on Claiborne Avenue at 2nd Street.
The local newspaper has run a little king cake contest this week, and three of the five ‘winners’ have the same last name!
Randazzo, Randazzo, Randazzo, Haydel’s and Sucre made the cut when the votes were tallied. This creates the impression the contest is sponsored by Randazzo’s. I doubt it was, but the impression is real.
In a former Mardi Gras life, I wrote a series of columns ranking king cakes in the New Orleans metro area. I bought a lot of king cakes in those days, as I saw many Metairie, West Bank and New Orleans East parades back then and picked up the cakes while I was there.
Was it a legitimate ranking? Probably not, but I bought each cake I talked about. Less stores sold them in those days, and McKenzie’s was the 600 pound king cake gorilla. They had the first filled king cakes for sale. Back then, the supermarkets and pharmacies and convenience stores didn’t sell king cakes. Only bakeries had them.
Back to the TP’s contest. All the Randazzo locations seem different, though some claim online that their recipe is the family’s. They have their own web sites and Face Book pages. There’s Randazzo’s Camellia City in Slidell, Manny Randazzo King Cakes in Metairie, and Nonna Randazzo Bakeries in Chalmette and Covington.
I had trouble finding any price for a picked up king cake at any of the Randazzo’s web sites. All included shipping that I could find.
To the contest’s credit, five other reader nominated bakeries in the poll were listed as ‘wildcard’ choices. They received at least 300 votes each. These wonderful bakers are Dianne’s King Cakes in Harahan, Gambino’s Bakery in Gretna and Metairie, La Dolce Nola, Metairie, Rouse’s Supermarkets all over town, and Tastee Donuts‘ McKenzie’s around town.
King cakes are HUGE in New Orleans. From January 6 until Mardi Gras Day, February 21, 2012- All this time is king cake time!! NOLA King cakes feature more sugar than most.
Historically, king cakes have been around Europe for centuries before New Orleans was settled. We had plain king cakes for a long long time in NOLA. Then McKenzie’s Bakeries started filling their king cakes, and charged like $9.95 for a medium filled one. This was back in late 1970s as I recall.
Pretty soon, filled king cakes had created a whole new king cake economic model, based on a more expensive king cake. Then the mail order model was created, and hundreds of thousands of king cakes are shipped worldwide. Haydel’s sells 60,000 king cakes, and that’s how they survive as a top bakery in 2012.
Who makes the best filled and unfilled king cakes in the NOLA metro area? There are a lot of entrants, since the shipping/local markets have exploded over the last three decades.
http://bit.ly/emh7cl is a King Cakes of the World article I found while researching this post. The blog is entitled- A Malaysian in France.
In the Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. This is known as the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings called a King’s Cake. In these early cakes, a pea, coin or bean was hidden inside the cake. Now, King Cakes contain a tiny plastic ‘baby’. The person whose piece contains the baby has to throw the next King Cake party. King Cake parties are enjoyed by the young and old all over the region and the world via the internet.
World’s simplest cheese cake!!
I came up with this recipe as an undergraduate at Cornell University, and gave it to my roommate, Kenny R. I then proceeded to lose the recipe, only to get it back from Kenny years later. Since then, I’ve made this delicious, creamy cheese cake for numerous Mardi Gras events, and it never fails to get eaten!
19 oz cream cheese
1 c sugar
3 eggs, added 1 at a time
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla
Pour into a 9″ graham cracker crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, let cool and ENJOY!!
David Eyre’s Pancake!!
A favorite recipe of my family for dozens of years, got this from a friend from Cornell. YUM!! We generally double the recipe.
1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
large pinch nutmeg
4 T butter
2 T confectioners suger
juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
Mix flour, milk, eggs, & nutmeg. Beat lightly, leaving a few lumps. Melt butter in 12″ skillet with heatproof handle. Pour batter into skillet in 425 oven. Cook 15 minutes (or less) until pancake is golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and lemon juice and serve.
Celebration in the Oaks Preview Party at City Park was a huge success for the event and us. We had a blast and accomplished all our pre show goals. Ate some amazing food, and tee totaled the giant booze giveaway no problem. I was much fresher when we ran out of andouille and smoked sausage after 2 hours. The 2011 version of Celebration in the Oaks looked fantastic, and the “it’s snowing!” oak tree was really the best new attraction I saw.
This chocolate cake recipe is an extension of my mother’s one pan easy chocolate cake. I add more baking chocolate and more chocolate bit topping, and I call this version Decadent Chocolate Cake. I’ve been making it for25+ years this way.
DECADENT CHOCOLATE CAKE
I use a Corning Ware glass covered pan, 9 3/4″ x 9 3/4″.
Mix together 1/3 c oil, 1 egg, 1 1/4 c flour, 1 c sugar, 3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (melted 1 minute at a time in the microwave), 1 t vanilla, 1 t baking soda, 1/2 t salt, and 3/4 c water. Mix with a fork until mostly smooth. Sprinkle 1 c semi sweet chocolate bits over the top, covering the entire surface. I use Mexican vanilla and mini chocolate bits all the time. The little bits provide better coverage since there is so many more of them in 1 cup.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until done (stick toothpick in pan center away from any chocolate bits and if it comes out clean, it’s done), cover with glass top immediately after removing from oven.
HUMMUS favorite recipe for a long time. Great for making in advance and serving during parades. Add seasoning to taste and enjoy!
Ingredients- 1 c cooked chick peas, 1 c tahini, 2 T oil, juice of 2 lemons, 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced, salt & pepper to taste, chopped parsley.
Mash chick peas in blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients except parsley. Blend until smooth. Garnish with parsley.