Mardi Gras sea­son kicks off with king cake

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Second Front - By RE­BECCA SAN­TANA

NEW OR­LEANS — As the rest of America winds down from the par­ties, overeat­ing and mer­ri­ment of Christ­mas and New Year’s, New Or­leans keeps the party go­ing. Mardi Gras sea­son of­fi­cially kicks off to­day. It is of­ten re­ferred to as Epiphany, Twelfth Night or Three Kings’ Day and com­mem­o­rates the day the Bi­ble says the three wise men reached the baby Je­sus. For weeks, the city is taken over by elab­o­rate pa­rades and peo­ple stuff­ing their faces with sug­ary king cake. The party cul­mi­nates on Fat Tues­day, which this year falls on March 5.

A num­ber of cos­tumed parad­ing groups of­ten dubbed krewes kick things off to­day.

Prob­a­bly the big­gest sin­gle sign that Mardi Gras sea­son is upon us is king cake. The ring-shaped cakes of­ten dec­o­rated in the Mardi Gras tri-color of pur­ple, green and gold can be found at bak­eries, restau­rants and homes across town. Cakes can be plain or filled with fruit and cream or laced with cin­na­mon. Bak­ers go all out.

For ex­am­ple, Al­ton Os­born, who owns By­wa­ter Bak­ery with his wife Chaya Con­rad, is introducin­g three new sa­vory king cakes — craw­fish, boudin and spinach/ar­ti­choke — to ac­com­pany their nine sweet king cakes.

Tra­di­tion­ally the bulk of the pa­rades hap­pen around the two week­ends ahead of Fat Tues­day. Towns in Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi and Alabama also host pa­rades and events dur­ing Mardi Gras sea­son.

Last year, Alabama’s state tourism agency pur­chased 10 bill­boards around New Or­leans and south­ern Mis­sis­sippi to pro­mote Car­ni­val in Mo­bile. Rather than men­tion­ing Mo­bile specif­i­cally, the signs told driv­ers how many miles they are from “America’s original Mardi Gras.” And they didn’t mean New Or­leans.

New Or­leans of­fi­cials took the rib­bing in stride with then-mayor Mitch Lan­drieu say­ing: “There’s only one great Mardi Gras in the world.” And he didn’t mean Mo­bile.

As­so­ci­ated Press files

— Rev­el­ers scream for beads dur­ing the 2017 Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras pa­rade in New Or­leans.

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