The New Yellow Penalty Flag Throw for the Mardi Gras Twist
Mardi Gras is, basically, a party, a celebration – the last big bash before the austerity of Lent’s penitential season begins, the period of fasting and abstinence in preparation for Easter. In now includes elements of football.
Mardi Gras can be traced back and its origins found in medieval Europe. It is, basically, a party, a celebration – the last big bash before the austerity of Lent’s penitential season begins, the period of fasting and abstinence in preparation for Easter. Catholic cultures, like that of New Orleans, operate on a cycle of recurring feasts and fasts, like the yearly cyclical seasons.
Mardi Gras Evolution
Here’s a brief timeline that hits the highlights in the evolution of the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration (adapted from Mardi Gras New Orleans):
- March 2, 1699 – French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur Bienville arrive at a plot of ground near present-day New Orleans and named it “pointe du Mardi Gras” because the arrival occurred on the eve of the holiday.
- 1710 – The “Beouf Gras Society” (similar to today’s krewes) was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861.
- 1718 – New Orleans was established, and by the 1730s Mardi Gras was openly celebrated, but without the parades, we are accustomed to today.
- 1781 – The earliest reference to Mardi Gras “Carnival” appeared in a report to the Spanish colonial governing body, and the Perseverance Benevolent $ Mutual Aid Association was formed, the first of hundreds of New Orleans clubs and carnival organizations.
- The late 1830s – New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horses to celebrate Mardi Gras, including gaslight torches (flambeaux) to light the way for members of krewes.
- 1856 – Six young Mobile natives formed the Mistick Krewe of Comus, bringing magic, mystery, and dazzling floats to the celebration.
- 1870 – The second Mardi Gras krewe was formed, the Twelfth Night Revelers. It was also the date of the first recorded account of the use of Mardi Gras throws.
- 1872 – A group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival, Rex, to preside over the first daytime parade.
Mardi Gras Parades in 2019
Today, parades are at the center of everything Mardi Gras. They are, as Sean Gautreaux explained, public displays put on for free during Mardi Gras. “There are about 60 parades in the metro area each year. Behind each parade is a non-profit organization or club. Inside that organization is a krewe (crew) that sponsors the parade. On the final weekend of Mardi Gras, it is said that there are 1 million people viewing on the parade route, especially when it comes to massive krewes like Endymion (3000+ riders) or on Mardi Gras Day when the floats are rolling all day long. The city’s population essentially doubles with all the tourists coming in.”
Just a few of the many upcoming parades and sponsoring krewes for 2019 are:
- Friday, March 1, 11:30 am – Krewe of Bosom Buddies – French Quarter
- Saturday, March 2, 6:30 pm – Krewe of Isis – Metaire
- Sunday, March 3, 5:30 pm – Krewe of Athena – Metaire
- Monday, March 4, 5:15 pm – Krewe of Proteus – Uptown New Orleans
- Tuesday, March 5, 10:00 am – Krewe of Argus – Metaire
What’s New This Year
There is, however, a new Mardi Gras twist for 2019 – the yellow penalty flag throw. New Orleanian are passionate Saints fans.
And when the Saints lost their January 20 NFC Championship Game (and lost their chance for the Super Bowl) because a certain pass interference penalty flag was never thrown, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
And so the Mardi Gras penalty flag throw was born…
“The referee flags will be thrown in several of the parades – for example, Krewe of Endymion, Krewe of Alla, Krewe of Muses, Krewe D’Etat, Krewe of Bacchus, Legion of Mars, Krewe of Eve, Krewe of Bonnepart (Lafayette, LA), and more. And how big is this thing really? On the day we interviewed him, Sean Gautreaux was on his way out deliver 400 flags to a krewe. And that was only a fraction of the total number. . . . There may lie ahead a long Super Bowl Lent (at least a year-long) for the Saints and fans, but it’s going to be kicked off with a big Mardi Gras penalty flag party.”