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Mardi Gras in New Orleans in the 1960s and 1970s

Let the good times roulez

Time for a drink.

Mardi Gras —Fat Tuesday, in English—is all about carnival.  The last day before the Christian fasting period of Lent, it was traditionally the final chance for people to eat enjoyable food—rich, sweet and fattening.

The festival is by no means celebrated everywhere in America, but for those locations with an ethnically French background, Mardis Gras is very significant—and nowhere more than in New Orleans. With the first celebration in the city held in 1837, New Orleans and Mardi Gras became indelibly connected. By the end of the Victorian era, New Orleans newspapers were even printing special Carnival editions

Across New Orleans, parades of elaborately costumed revellers will take over the city streets in what is known as the “Greatest Free Show on Earth”.  These color photographs of just such festivities were taken in the 1960s and 1970s for LIFE magazine by Ernst Haas.

1961
All the frills for Mardi Gras.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1961
Waiting for the parade to pass by.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1961
Throw some beads my way!
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1961
Someone is collecting beads.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1978
What are you looking at?
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1978
Time to dance.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1978
Figures on a float.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1978
A Mardi Gras silhouette.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1978
The mask is off.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1978
No one is overdressed at Mardi Gras.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1978
Plume? Check. Hat? Check. Cocktail? Check.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1979
A magnificent feathered headdress.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1979
Even the streets get dressed up for Mardi Gras.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
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