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Mardi Gras' Spanish Heritage & the First Krewe

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The Rebirth Brass Band “Super Krewe of Zulu”

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In the beginning, Mardi Gras had no parade as we know it today and the first parade might not have happened at all if it weren’t for Spain. While France gets the credit for much of the New Orleans character, it was when Spain controlled what was then called the Louisiana Territory that the French Quarter was built and it was also Spain that imported the Hispanic practice of celebratory parading during their Carnival season to the Mardi Gras of New Orleans.

Though introduced by Spain, New Orleans quickly made the parade theirs. By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. Dazzling gaslight torches, or "flambeaux," lit the way for the krewe's members, and lent each event an exciting air of romance and festivity. In 1856, six young Mobile natives formed the Mistick Krewe of Comus, invoking John Milton's hero Comus to represent their organization. Comus brought magic and mystery to New Orleans, with dazzling floats (known as tableaux cars) and masked balls. Krewe members remained anonymous, and to this day, Comus still rides!

The track I played today is an homage to that first krewe…