Ninety years ago the City of New Orleans was preparing to celebrate the annual Mardi Gras festivities despite the fact that less than six months earlier the great hurricane of 1915 had devastated the Crescent City. Fifty years later New Orleans once again was gearing up for Mardi Gras in the wake of the even more disastrous Hurricane Betsy. Now, in 2006, we find ourselves determined to put on a first-class Carnival celebration, a mere six months after the calamity that was Hurricane Katrina.
As terrible as the 1915 and 1965 storms were, neither of these previous natural disasters came even close to having the impact that Katrina has had on the City of New Orleans. The Carnival season, and Mardi Gras itself, will go on this year, as it did in 1916 and 1966. The balls that will be held, and the parades that will ride through the streets, will all take place in the "dry" New Orleans, that part of the city that was not inundated by the flood waters that came upon us in Katrina's wake. We hope that history will repeat itself and mark 2006 as biggest and best Mardi Gras of all time.
For this month's Gallery we have selected contemporary newspaper accounts along with a handful of items from our Louisiana Carnival Collection to illustrate how Mardi Gras can happen in the aftermath of a disaster.