When Was the First Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans?

first-mardi-gras-parade-new-orleans Credit: Skip Bolen/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The modern-style Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans took place in 1857, with members of the newly formed Mistick Krewe of Comus presenting the city's first themed parade, which included floats and other features that are now recognizable as a Mardi Gras celebration. Prior to this, Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans had mostly been informal, and events such as a fatal balcony collapse in 1854 and a spate of violence by masked revelers in 1855 caused a local Creole newspaper to declare that the city's Mardi Gras celebrations were officially over. The 1857 parade resurrected New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebrations and helped to form traditions and set the tone for parades and events that are still part of the holiday festivities.

After a brief hiatus from formal celebrations during the American Civil War, Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans were reinstated in 1867 with another themed parade from the Comus krewe. In 1871, a second krewe, the Twelfth Night Revelers, joined the festivities, helping to set in motion the trend of a large number of krewes organizing their own festivities during New Orleans' Mardi Gras. Many of the Mardi Gras traditions that are still in place were born during this late 19th century period.