Historically, Mardi Gras was a festival where people ate all the meat, eggs, milk and cheese that remained in their homes before the beginning of Lent, in preparation for several weeks of eating only fish and fasting. It was brought to the United States by the French and Spanish settlers. The very first Mardi Gras to be celebrated in New Orleans happened in 1837.
Part of the larger Carnival celebration season that runs through February, Mardi Gras is one of the most well-known celebrations in the United States. The holiday is usually celebrated with a parade, featuring plenty of intricate costumes. Food is still an important part of Mardi Gras, including king cake, gumbo and po’boys. There are plenty of creative cocktails, too, such as hurricanes and sazeracs that naturally go along with the celebration as well!
Although New Orleans is one of the most popular cities to celebrate Mardi Gras in, the entire state of Louisiana celebrates the day in their own special way. One of the best ways to spend Mardi Gras is in the Southwest Louisiana town of Lake Charles. Further away from the crowds of New Orleans, Lake Charles offers an atmosphere that brings back good old-fashioned fun. The town hosts a huge parade with lavish costumes that celebrate not only the “sins” of the season, but the joys of living in the South.
With the second-largest number of krewes (organizations that assemble parades and balls for Carnival season) in the state, Lake Charles has plenty of Mardi Gras activities. Visitors can check out crazy costumes at the Twelfth Night evening and the Royal Gala—a very unique experience as most krewes limit this activities to krewe members and families. Guests can wear whatever their hearts desire, from jeans to cocktail dresses.
The performers will be the ones decked out at these parties, wearing costumes that can weigh over 65 pounds. After the performers make their grand exit, the Mardi Gras queens and Duke or Duchess of Misrule head to center stage for their moment in the spotlight.
King cake, a Mardi Gras tradition, originated in France and Spain and was brought to the United States in Mobile, Alabama, in the 18th century. The cake is made in a ring shape. The most traditional kind is a twisted ring of cinnamon dough that has a layer of icing or sugar on top. The icing is colored in purple, green and gold, which are the traditional colors of Mardi Gras. Usually filled with other treats, including cream cheese, praline and strawberry, the cake delivers a shot of pure sugar right to the bloodstream — perfect for those pre-Lent days.
Other typical king cakes include the Zulu king cake that is filled with coconut and topped with a chocolate icing. In New Orleans, this is particularly special where the Zulu krewe throws a coconut off of their float. It's considered extremely good luck to catch this coconut.
The king cake also contains a surprise: one person will have good luck for the rest of the year if he or she is lucky enough to find a coin, hidden in a slice of cake. In many circles, the person who finds the trinket is also “lucky” enough to host next year’s Mardi Gras celebration.
All of these festivities are located a hop, skip and a jump across the river from the Isle of Capri® Lake Charles, the perfect “icing on the cake” to a weekend Mardi Gras celebration. At the end of a fun-filled day of parades and costumes, guests can head back to their rooms for a quiet night or continue the fun at the casino.
The hotel offers two towers full of luxurious rooms and three dining options: an upscale eatery, Otis & Henry’s® Bar and Grill; a buffet, filled with delicious and nourishing selections and a quick-service restaurant for visitors on the go.
The casino offers plenty of gaming options, from tables to slots. Visitors can play the odds at over 1,150 slot and video poker machines or try a hand at roulette, craps or blackjack at over 45 tables. They can even brush up on their card skills at one of the eight live poker tables.
Throughout the month of February, the casino will host special win days to celebrate Mardi Gras. Prizes include an extra $500 of FanPlay bucks, free entry to the casino, free t-shirts and more. At Vegas Bayou, going on throughout the month of February, guests can win $2,500 or $5,000 worth of FanPlay bucks.
There’s plenty of ways to celebrate Mardi Gras, from parades to costumes to delicious eats. At the Isle of Capri Lake Charles, everyone goes home a little happier and a little fatter. We can’t wait for Mardi Gras 2015 to be under way!