Have you always wanted to go to New Orleans and experience Mardi Gras but never made the trip? Well, you’re in luck because Mardi Gras has come to Orange County. No need to flash for beads at this parade, Mardi Gras OC is a family and dog-friendly event. There is even an all-day Masquerade Party for those 18 and over, if you’d prefer a little adult time instead.
This celebration (called ‘Carnival’ in many other countries) starts on or after Epiphany, in January, and ends on Ash Wednesday, in February. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the ritual of eating richer, fatty foods on the last night before Lent, which starts the following day, Ash Wednesday.
The large celebration in New Orleans was brought over by two French brothers when the Louisiane territory was still owned by the French and included today’s Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The first organized celebration was in 1703, in Mobile, Alabama, which was the original capital of the territory. The capital was moved two more times until it landed in New Orleans in 1723.
The first formal mystic society, or krewe, was formed in 1711, but it wasn’t until 1803 that the first masked mystic krewe celebrated with a parade. From there the celebration continued to grow to the Mardi Gras celebration New Orleans knows today, which is the largest in the United States. The krewes today continue to wear masks and costumes on the parade floats and toss ‘throws’ (usually colorful beaded necklaces) to the crowds.
Mardi Gras is coming to the Orange County Fair Grounds this weekend with fun for everyone, even your four-legged best friend. Opening Ceremonies commence on Friday at 3 p.m. The rest of the day features a Youth Masquerade Parade, live music, Parade of Krewes, and an adult Masquerade Party from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday will feature Tykes Masquerade Parade (kids 5 & under), Parade of Krewes, a Pooch Parade, live music, and an adult all-day Masquerade Party. Sunday will feature a Pooch Parade, Kiddo’s Parade, Parade of Krewes, live music, an adult all-day Masquerade Party, and then closing ceremonies.
Saturday’s fun runs from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. while Sunday runs from 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Kids and pups can enter the parades by going to one of the Mardi Gras Gear Booths. Children are $10 per entry and pups are $15 per entry.
The OC Fair Grounds are located at 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. Mardi Gras tickets cost $15 at the door and children under 12 are free. For more information, including parade times and more on the all-day Masquerade Party, check out MardiGrasOC.com