Friday, May 26, 2017

LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER (Let The Good Times Roll)

 Lake Charles, Louisiana is located in Calcasieu Parish.  Our visit to this area included a stop at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu.  The idea of this museum originated in 1997 when enough Lake Charles Mardi Gras costumes were collected to fill two classrooms of the Central School Building in Lake Charles.  This amazing collection now takes up the entire east wing of the second floor of the Central School Building (built in 1912), and is now recognized as the largest Mardi Gras costume collection on display in the world!  Many of the original costumes on display are valued between $3,000 to $5,000 each.  Not only does this museum display these elaborate costumes, it also preserves and interprets the tradition of the Lakes Charles history of Mardi Gras.

ONE OF THE FIRST OF THE KREWE QUEENS
IN LAKE CHARLES, LA.
Many people mistakenly associate only New Orleans with Mardi Gras, and once you travel through the different parishes and small towns of Louisiana you know this celebration takes place in Louisiana as well as Alabama, Texas, and some parts of Florida, as well as Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Cayman Islands, etc.  Several years ago while visiting Lafayette, La. on the day of their Mardi Gras celebration, a friend explained there are many Mardi Gras celebrations, most of which are family oriented and the New Orleans celebration does not portray Mardi Gras in the tradition it was intended.
AN AFTERNOON IN THE MARDI GRAS MUSEUM OF
IMPERIAL CALCASIEU
may not give you time to see everything!
Mardi Gras is a day long celebration the day before Ash Wednesday.  The term Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday", refers to the old custom of leading a fattened ox through the streets of a Catholic village.  The ox is later cooked and celebrants feasted and made merry before the dawn of Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

What is Carnival?  Carnival is the name of the season derived from two words:  "Carne" meaning meat, and "Vale" meaning "farewell to meat" during the 40 days of Lent.  The Carnival Season begins on the "Epiphany" or the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6, and goes until Mardi Gras day.

THE MARDI GRAS MUSEUM OF
IMPERIAL CALCASIEU
Many museums are presented in such an amazing fashion that they take your breath away.  This one qualifies as one of those museums that defies your imagination.  We walked away imagining the talent, the creativeness of the designers, the years of tradition, and I'll have to say....if you can believe it...WE WERE SPEECHLESS!
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