St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans

Irish in New Orleans

The Irish have left their imprint all over the world, and it’s evident from the grand St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in several countries outside of Ireland.

One such place where St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with much fervor in New Orleans. While in most other places, it is just a one-day celebration, in New Orleans, it is celebrated over a few weeks, with parties, parades, and Irish food and drinks.

There is much greater Irish history in the US than most people know. Although New Orleans is better known for its Spanish and French influences, there is visible Irish culture too in the city.

The Irish connection of New Orleans dates back to the 17th century, when several Irish nationals immigrated to the US for a better life. Much of the laborers that helped build the US were of Irish origin. The period around 1830, when the New Basin Canal was built, it was the Irish that contributed the labor.

During the construction of this canal, thousands of Irish workers died from yellow fever. Those who survived started working in the Port of New Orleans and living on Magazine Street. Today, thousands of people in the US are descendants of Irish immigrants. No wonder, St. Patrick’s Day is such a huge celebration all over the country, particularly in New Orleans.

St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans

St. Patrick’s Day is as big in New Orleans as in Ireland. On March 17th every year, New Orleans celebrates the day with parades and parties. New Orleans loves to parade, and this day witnesses people young and old coming out with friends and family to join the fun. More than anything, the day is a perfect excuse to spend some time in the outdoors, basking in the sun and taking part in the merrymaking.

On this day, the whole city is on the streets, carrying picnic baskets, umbrellas, and recreational vehicles. People in walking groups from various clubs dress up in green and distribute beads, flowers, and kisses among the lucky parade-goers. There is music and dance, with the bands playing and the parade-goers dancing.

A big attraction of the day is the floats and truck floats. The parade-goers call out, “Throw me something, Mister!”, and the riders on the floats respond by throwing cabbages, carrots, onions, potatoes, moonpies… and even underwear! The lucky ones go home with a lot of cabbages and carrots, all set for the week ahead! Some even perch themselves somewhere high up, to better catch the throws. Some even take their pets along to join in the fun.

There is usually a lot of work to do after the celebrations are over. The more garbage collected, the higher the success rate of the event. The day after the parade, they announce the amount of garbage collected from the streets!

If you are heading to New Orleans for the St. Patrick’s Day, make sure to dress in green and join the festivities in time!

The NOLA Fleur-de-lis

The fleur-de-lis is a lily flower according to the direct French translation of the word. Many historians, however, attribute its style characteristics to more closely resemble those of the iris flower. Either way, this decorative symbol historically has been used to represent peace, war, religion, politics, and royalty. But New Orleans gives a whole new meaning to this little flower.

The History

Traditionally, the fleur-de-lis has been used to represent French royalty, in that, it signifies purity, perfection, light, and life. People say that an angel presented a golden lily to Clovis, king of the Franks, to symbolize purification. This was upon his conversion to Christianity. Others claim that he adopted the symbol when water lilies showed him how to safely cross a river and thus succeed in battle.

Fleur-de-lis Presence in New Orleans

Thanks to the influential French settlers who founded the great city of New Orleans, the fleur-de-lis is now a part of our culture. This flower is a symbol that permeates Louisiana’s rich history. We see it in architecture, business logos, furniture, the city flag, on the helmets of the Saints football team, on tee shirts, and bar glasses, it’s everywhere! The fleur-de-lis was depicted on the first few iterations of the Louisiana flag, before Louisiana was part of the United States.  Our current state flag depicts the state bird, a pelican. But in 2008, the fleur-de-lis became the official Louisiana state symbol.

Symbolism

After the devastation of hurricane Katrina, New Orleans residents made the fleur-de-lis their city’s symbol first unofficially, then officially! As a familiar emblem, it became a call to arms throughout not just the city but the world. People around the globe watched as resilient New Orleanians rebuilt their homes and communities. Displaying this flower became a sign of community pride. Those who reside in New Orleans display fleur-de-lis flags in their gardens and homes, on their cars and on their clothes. This is to demonstrate their support for a city that is spiritually indestructible.

It’s Time for Mardi Gras, Let’s Pick a Parade!

It's Mardi Gras, Let's Pick a Parade! Tours by Isabelle. You'll Love Louisiana!

It’s Time For Mardi Gras, Let’s Pick a Parade!

“Krewe du Vieux” kicked off the 17-day long Mardi Gras parade season on Saturday, January 27th. Then, everything culminates on Mardi Gras day, Tuesday, February 13th, with a slew of “truck parades.” With so many parades taking place, first time New Orleans Mardi Gras visitors need to figure out the parades they want to see.  Specific “krewes,” each with a unique identity, special throws, and certain followers, lead each parade. You won’t be able to see ALL of the parades, so here are a few highlights you won’t want to miss:

Truck Parades

If you’re lucky enough to stick around for Mardi Gras Day, check out the Truck Parades! Simple decorations adorn trucks full of thousands of male and female riders of all ages. No one holds back when it comes to “throws.”  That’s the reason these parades are really fun for the whole family.

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club

The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club also “rolls” on Mardi Gras day. They throw one of the most sought-after throws in all of Mardi Gras. Coconuts they have decorated! Being an African American krewe, Zulu celebrates the culture and history of our African American population and their ancestors.

Endymion and Bacchus

Endymion and Bacchus are two “super-krewes”  that schedule their parades the weekend before Mardi Gras Day. The Krewe of Endymion rolls on Saturday and the Krewe of Bacchus rolls on Sunday.  Not surprisingly, both parades feature “super-floats,” and they really are a sight to behold. Both krewes construct magnificent monster floats that light up the streets. The thick crowds that come out to see these two parades are evidence of their acclaim.

Muses

Thursday before Mardi Gras Day is one of the most anticipated and unique parades called Muses. This krewe is comprised entirely of women. Their special throws are THE MOST coveted of all of the parades. They are hand-decorated shoes, often stilettos, adorned with lots and lots of glitter. Will you be lucky enough to catch one of these prized commemorative shoes? If so, you can consider your Mardi Gras a success!

Barkus

Barkus is a favorite parade among locals. “Floats” in this parade are the size of wagons and men and women pull them along. The riders in this krewe? Dogs! This might just be the best dog parade you will ever see. Dogs and owners who are not participating in the parade line the streets of the French Quarter waiting to catch treats thrown by the riders’ humans.

For details on these parades and to see the full 2018 Mardi Gras parade schedule click here.

Meet the Real New Orleans Irish

The newest addition to New Orleans’ collection of museums,  the Irish Cultural Museum, pays tribute to the many sacrifices and accomplishments of our Irish ancestors. The Irish are remembered in a big way every year on St. Patrick’s day with parades and green beer but the real story behind this people and their great impact on our wonderful city can be learned throughout the year at this boutique museum in the historic French Quarter. If you are interested in uncovering the background behind the historic Irish Channel neighborhood, or the famed architect James Gallier, an Irish descendant, or even the delicious Irish coffee found in many local bars and restaurants, then definitely make it a point to stop by this learning center!

Artist Spotlight: Terrance Osborne

The sensory experience New Orleans is so well known for, its sights, sounds, and tastes, are all due to the population of creative people who call this beloved city home. Today we will recognize one of these artists, Terrance Osborne. Terrance is a local New Orleanian who paints vibrant, colorful scenes of life in the Crescent City. One of his iconic works Post Hurricane Blues (pictured above) was actually done a few years before Hurricane Katrina. Post-Katrina, his depictions of Hurricane Solutions have become quite popular as well.  He has also been commissioned to design the official poster for the Jazz and Heritage Festival. If you are looking for gift ideas on this Black Friday and want to support a local New Orleans artist, you can buy poster size prints of his works for $50.  Check out his amazing talent at his website here!

Rebirth of an Historic Landmark: Municipal Auditorium

The Municipal Auditorium, shuttered since Katrina, is undergoing a multi million dollar clean up. But at the end will it once again be where Mardi Gras Krewes stage their balls, or will it be renovated for new uses, starting another era for the 85 year old building? http://www.wwltv.com/story/news/local/orleans/2015/02/04/municipal-auditorium-mardi-gras-balls-errol-laborde-cedric-grant-hurricane-katrina-damage/22885381/