A Visit to the Strange and Beautiful World of Mardi Gras World

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(NEW ORLEANS) — On Feb. 18, I visited an open house held at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans, which is the workshop and storage facility of the Kern Studios float design company. I was very exited to see what new additions the Krewe of Orpheus had added to their float lineup for this year’s parade, scheduled to roll on Monday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. on the Uptown New Orleans route.

The Smokey Mary, Orpheus's longest float at 245 ft. long, sits on display (Photo by Blake Franklin)

The Smokey Mary, Orpheus’s longest float at 245 feet long, sits on display.
(Blake Franklin)

I had been to Mardi Gras World before, but the entire warehouse full of used props and statues still completely blew me away. Models of familiar characters and fairy-tale creatures lined the path to the main hall.

At the entrance to where the floats were, a small band was playing familiar songs to keep the party entertaining, and guests who had just arrived stopped to watch them play.

A band entertains the guests while old props are displayed behind it (Photo by Blake Franklin)

A traditional New Orleans brass band band entertains the guests while old props are displayed behind it. (Blake Franklin)

The amazing floats of Orpheus, both old and new, were lined one-by-one all the way down to the end. At each float, there was a table where some of its crew were handing out sweets and drinks relating to the theme of the float. Most of the drinks were alcoholic, so I didn’t get to try them, but there were many tasty treats, such as king cake and cookies, that I was more than happy to accept. Of course, they were also giving out meals and soft drinks, so I had a hotdog with some chili.

The Orpheus parde's famous flowers from throughout the years lie stocked on the shelves. (Photo by Blake Franklin)

The Orpheus parade is famous for the colorful flowers that adorn every float. Flowers from throughout the years lie stocked on the shelves. (Blake Franklin)

Orpheus floats are always something special. Nearly every piece of them is hand-crafted. And although they are very well-made, the artists and designers never reuse old pieces on new floats. So what do they do with some of the old decorations and old floats? Well, they actually hand them down to other parades to use.

What was shown off at this open house completely blew me away, although I can’t say that I did not expect it to. I am very excited for Orpheus parade to show what it’s made of during the Mardi Gras break. I will definitely be attending.

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