We didn't make it to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras! However, based on some of the behaviors we observed, that are still occurring throughout the French Quarter, we probably didn't miss much. For us, there was something better - we got to tour Mardi Gras World! Blaine Kern's Studios and Mardi Gras World are where all the floats and props for the 56 different parades of Mardi Gras are created and built. The 60 odd Krewes (read social clubs here, with memberships ranging from 300 to 3000) that put on these different parades, provide the themes for their floats to the company and then rent them from Mardi Gras World. This is a massive place! The guided tour itself, about an hour in length, takes visitors through the various workshops, providing essential background information on the creative process. But the really cool part was after the tour, when we were allowed to roam freely through the workshops and warehouse, to our heart's content. Most items are made out of styrofoam and paper mache (a few are fiberglass) and have an estimated life span of 30 years. Everything is inventoried, re-usable, or re-purposed. Mardi Gras is not their only customer. They also provide props for Chick-Fil-A restaurants, casinos, and Disneyworld. We could have wandered around there forever! It was that much fun.
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Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.