New Orleans Swings Into Spring With Early Mardi Gras

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 10, 2005 — Parades, king cakes, beads, masks, stars, floats and millions of visitors will line the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras 2005.

Would-be revelers planning to join the throngs screaming the immortal catch-phrase “Throw me something, mister!” should check out for a wealth of travel information, deals on hotel rooms and an early look at Mardi Gras gear.

The annual Mardi Gras celebration begins in earnest with the parade of the Krewe of Oshun on Friday, January 28 and ends at midnight February 8, 2005, also known as Fat Tuesday. The most active celebrations – and the best parades and Mardi Gras loot – are expected to be packed into the five-day period running from Friday, Feb. 4 through Fat Tuesday. can help visitors map out parade routes, sketch each day’s schedule and help plan a wild – or not-so-wild – party for the times in before, after and in-between. The site features information on all kinds of authentic New Orleans food to give parties a true Cajun flair. Drink recipes even come courtesy from a French Quarter bartender.

Hollywood stars hit the town again this year, with Oscar winner Marisa Tomei riding with Endymion on Feb. 5 and former hobbit Sean Astin gracing the Krewe of Bacchus parade on Feb. 6. Musicians Harry Connick, Jr., and Toby Keith will lead the Orpheus parade Feb. 7. Get a complete schedule and printable parade route maps at

Flamboyant costumes and fantastic masks are a common part of the Mardi Gras experience; float riders are even required by law to wear masks. The masking tradition descends from ancient Roman times when carnival-goers assumed different identities. Modern masks can run the gamut from fun and funky to elaborate and intricate. Visit for a photo gallery of the best of last year’s costumes and a chance to buy collectible or decorative masks.

King cakes have become a near universal – and delicious – symbol of Mardi Gras. Tradition dictates that whoever finds the tiny plastic baby hidden inside brings another cake, with another trinket hidden inside, the next day. Can’t get to New Orleans for a fresh king cake? can supply visitors with recipes, games, an array of king cake supplies and even a chocolate candy confection sure to delight the taste buds! Visit or e-mail

Of course, Mardi Gras doesn’t have to be all about beads, pastries, plastic babies and mystic krewes. The history of Mardi Gras offers a fascinating look at how an event that began as a small parade of revelers on horseback in 1837 has grown to one of the greatest free parties in the world. Educators can visit for a full week of lesson plans for any grade level, K-12.

Don’t bounce all over the Internet looking for Mardi Gras information. Find everything needed to get ready for Mardi Gras – hotel reservations, beads, king cakes, T-shirts, masks and more – at The Big Easy awaits. – “The Information Source for the Gras!”

For further information, contact: at 985.898.2158
(fax) 985.892.8535