Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Flambeaux-carriers are a tradition from the very start of New Orleans' Mardi Gras. Before the floats were wired with electric lights, the flambeaux were carried alongside the floats to light them up for the crowd. The flambeaux are usually kerosene lamps with a panel of metal to reflect the flame onto the float. Now that the floats can light themselves, they are a vestige of an older time. The original carriers were slaves, and after the Civil War it was still usually black men who carried the lamps. This Mardi Gras I saw a few white carriers, but the majority to this day are still black men.