The last day before the beginning of Lent on the Gulf Coast that once belonged to France, it is Mardi Gras
, "Fat Tuesday": Laissez les bon temps rouler!
It was first celebrated in Mobile, Alabama, but the big show these days is in New Orleans, and it is a holiday in the state of Louisiana, because people wouldn't show up for work anyway, so why fight it.
This year it continues in spite of Katrina, although it will take a decade to look like the old version, and it will never regain what the wind, water, cronyism, and incompetence have destroyed.
For pictures from the local parades you can stop by Barrier Island Girl
The tradition is to serve King cake, which is a circle of cinnamon bun dough with a white frosting on top sprinkled with sugar colored purple, gold, and green. If that weren't bad enough, they put the figurine of a baby in the dough, and whoever finds it in their piece is supposed to be lucky. Actually if you find it and don't choke on it, I guess you are lucky. You should use a small ceramic figurine, as some of the cheap plastic versions melt in the oven [yummy].