Mardi Gras - Fun Facts


  • More than 500,000 king cakes are sold each year in New Orleans between January 6 and Fat Tuesday, and another 50,000 are shipped out-of-state via overnight courier. 
  • The king cakes include a tiny plastic baby doll inside; the person who finds the doll is declared "king" and must buy the next cake or give the next party. 
  • The metro area's 37,000-plus hotel rooms are traditionally 95% filled during Mardi Gras weekend. 
  • An economic impact study released by the University of New Orleans estimates that Mardi Gras generates over $840 million annually. 
  • The largest of about one dozen Mardi Gras supply houses in New Orleans sells an estimated one billion pairs of beads for a Mardi Gras season.
  • The super parades of Endymion and Bacchus, scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday before Fat Tuesday, feature a combined total of 67 floats, 60 marching bands and more than 250 units. Their 4,200 members toss more than 1.5 million cups, 2.5 million doubloons and millions of beads. 

"An economic study released by the University of New Orleans estimates that Mardi Gras generates more than $840 million annually."

  • One of the most photographed objects in all of Mardi Gras is the Boeuf Gras float in the Rex parade. Since the Middle Ages, the bouef gras (fatted bull) has been the symbol of the last meat eaten before Lent. While once a live bull was included in the procession, now a huge papier-mache' figure appears. 
  • The five truck parades that follow the krewes of Rex, Argus and Grela on Fat Tuesday feature more than 350 decorated flatbeds with nearly 15,000 costumed maskers aboard. 


Each year on the evening of January 6, the Phunny Phorty Phellows (PPP), a group of about 50 costumed men and women, trumpet the official opening of the Carnival season by riding a decorated streetcar along the St. Charles Avenue line. Accompanied by a lively Dixieland band, the group feasts on king cake and tosses throws to the delighted onlookers.

The popularity of small parades in the days leading up to Mardi Gras has exploded in recent years. Chewbacchus, a Star Wars-themed walking parade in the French Quarter, is beloved for its creative costumes and handmade throws. The canine parade Barkus is a family favorite, with plenty of costumed pups to pet. 'Tit Rex is a micro-parade, with elaborately-decorated shoebox-sized floats that are wheeled through the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods. .

On Mardi Gras Eve, the Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) celebration takes place at the Spanish Plaza adjacent to the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk. The event features the riverboat arrival of Rex, a jazz concert, fireworks and a masked ball.

This article was written by Arthur Hardy, publisher of the annual Mardi Gras Guide magazine. This material may not be reproduced without permission of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau and full credit must be given to the author.