Riding on a Mardi Gras float is something I can check off my bucket list after visiting New Orleans last week for the Le Meridien New Orleans debut event. No, the float wasn’t in a parade. And, yes, it was about 40 degrees outside, so there were few people to witness the scene as my other media peers and I floated through the city. But the float was used in past Mardi Gras parades — complete with two levels on which we could stand; much-needed blankets; and an array of green, yellow and purple beads to throw to the few passersby below. To be able to ride on an actual Mardi Gras float is a rarity for tourists, but not at Mardi Gras World.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a way of life. Every February, several parades are planned out and scheduled during the Carnaval week leading up to Fat Tuesday. New Orleans locals save up money to spend thousands of dollars to be a part of popular parade groups such as the Krewe of Bacchus or the Krewe of Orpheus. Each float in the parade can cost about $50,000, and there are several floats—some the size of football fields—in each parade. The floats are so intricate that the parade groups start planning themes for the following year the day after the festivities end.
Mardi Gras World is essentially a warehouse venue that houses these Mardi Gras floats and serves as a space for artists to build the parade floats to life. It also doubles as an event venue. Venue options include two outdoor plazas and a ballroom right on the Mississippi River. Groups can also have a Float Den party in a space where attendees will be surrounded by the floats and props that make up Mardi Gras. Another venue is the Grand Oaks Mansion Room, an indoor façade of an antebellum plantation garden complete with stars and clouds in the sky.
Tammy Syock, Mardi Gras World’s lead event sales representative, says that the event can be enhanced with mini parades as well as teambuilding workshops that include mask making and mini-float building. For arrivals, the staff can set up entire street parades to transport guests—similar to the one my media group participated in—instead of using traditional coaches.
“A fun New Orleans experience is to end an evening at Mardi Gras World with a fireworks display from a barge on the river and/or departures via a historic paddle wheeler,” adds Syock. “Parties have also included aerialists, carnival equipment, art displays, video mapping, celebrity chefs—the list goes on and on.”
So whether or not your group is visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras, attendees can always participate in the city’s “Let the Good Times Roll” way of life, and Mardi Gras World is living proof of that.