Samedi Gras has become the greatest party in New Orleans other than Mardi Gras! Mardi is Tuesday in French. Samedi is Saturday in French. So, Mardi Gras is best known as Fat Tuesday, the big party before Ash Wednesday starts lent the next day. Samedi is the Fat Saturday, if you will, on the Saturday before the big Mardi Gras celebration. And it is almost just as ‘fat!!’
Samedi Gras all started when a new krewe, that’s the clubs who ‘roll’ the parades, called Endymion started their parade on this Saturday night in a residential area of New Orleans, near the City Park. People liked the parade so much with its new bright lights and big shining floats and their famous celebrities (Brooks & Dunn, Bucktown All Stars and more) that they started showing up very early for the parade. This is common for Mardi Gras parades, but this area of town has a big grassy meadow between two opposing streets (called a neutral ground), Orleans Avenue Meadows, where everyone would congregate to wait for the parade to roll on Saturday night.
They enjoyed being in this nontraditional neighborhood so much and they would throw Frisbee games, barbeque, etc., while waiting for the parade to begin. It is a big tailgate party. Over the years, the crowds began to get there earlier and earlier, and would camp out over night to guard their trea
sured ‘spots’ for the parade. They would bring their famous Mardi Gras ladders with the kiddie seats on top, and there they were until the night’s parade Rolled!!
The krewe members were so touched by their fans’ loyalty that they decided to do something in return. And for New Orleans, nothing rewards like a great big party. So, beginning in 1997, the annual Samedi Gras was on. The Endymion krewe members launched their first big day long party for thei
r fans on the Orleans Avenue Meadow on this Samedi before Mardi Gras……band after band after band, with celebrities receiving the key to the city, Endymion Moments, and more…all leading up to their Samedi night parade.
During this party, at about 3:00 pm, some 2000 krewe members arrive and they hit the streets dancing and marching to the beat of a New Orleans jazz band, all the way up to load their floats, throwing beads and doubloons and kisses to the crowds, and the crowds and the krewe members just LOVE it!!
So, if you’re planning to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year, it looks like you will have a little Endymion Magic in store for you,
and remember to go early, and stay late.