USATourist News MagazineFebruary 2002
In this issue:
Once again it is time for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. This raucous festival, known as Carnival or Fasching in other countries, is not widely celebrated in the USA. But in the very European flavored city of New Orleans LA, Mardi Gras is a festival of epic proportion.
Laissez les bon temps rouler! - Let the good times roll! This popular New Orleans expression best describes the week of parades, parties and wild entertainment.
Historians report that as early as 1718 the French inhabitants of New Orleans held masked balls before Lent. Under Spanish rule, masked balls and street dancing were prohibited. In 1827 the USA acquired New Orleans and restored the right to party while wearing masks. In the 1850s, two types of celebration marked the onset of Lent, the upper classes attended elegant masked balls and others indulged in riotous street celebrations.
The street revelry was so wild that Mardi Gras was almost eliminated, when the city debated stopping all pre-Lent parties. In 1857, a group of Mardi Gras devotees formed a secret society, the Mystick Krewe of Comus to save Mardi Gras by carefully planning and organizing celebrations. They held the very first Mardi Gras parade.
In 1872, a member of the Russian Imperial family was visiting New Orleans and The Krewe of Rex formed to provide New Orleans with "royalty" to welcome the visitor. To this day, they anoint one of their own to be the King Of Carnival. In the succeeding century and a half, other societies formed to add their own touches to the parades and festivities. Initially these were secret societies, but today they are so open that almost anyone in New Orleans who wants to participate can join a society.
Mardi Gras parades run a route that is outside the French Quarter. The parades are family type events --- so feel free to come to New Orleans with your children and have a wonderful time. The children can scramble for Mardi Gras beads flung from the passing parade floats.
The scenes you may have has seen of drunken people engaging in somewhat risqué behavior usually take place late at night, after the parades have passed. They are typically confined to the French Quarter. It is not true that women must display their breasts to receive beads from the characters on the floats in the parade. If some woman bares her breasts along the parade route she'll draw shocked stares and probably be arrested by the police. That sort of behavior is confined to the French Quarter in the late evening.
If you are visiting Las Vegas, for a week of gambling, partying and entertainment, I suggest you take a day off for a short drive to the Valley of Fire State Park. It is located just 30 miles north of the city and it is a sharp contrast from the man-made glitz of the Strip. This geological oddity contains some landscape that looks like it belongs on another planet. Volcanic lava and eroded red sandstone formations form some fantastic desert terrain. It has been used as the location for many Hollywood movies. We just added a new web page about this attraction: http://www.usatourist.com/english/destinations/nevada/stateparks/valleyoffire/valley-of-fire-main.html
We also added information about Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Indian Nation near Page Arizona. http://www.usatourist.com/english/destinations/arizona/antelopecanyon/antelope-canyon-main.html This spectacularly beautiful little canyon is perhaps the most photogenic location in the USA. Unfortunately, most tourists overlook this attraction. It is small, somewhat isolated from other major attractions and less known. I think it is worth seeing and is a must for photographers.
The tourists are returning to the USA. Tourism has been suffering in the USA since the attacks of September 11, but it is on the increase once again. The number of visitors to our USATourist.com pages has increased dramatically since January 1. Hotel bookings are on the rise and many more people are beginning to plan trips to the popular US attractions. It looks like it will be a busy spring and summer tourist season in the US.
Through our affiliation with Liberty Helicopter Excursions, we are able to offer reservations for helicopter flights over New York City. What better way to see the Big Apple than via a flight over Manhattan Island for a birds-eye view of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, the Manhattan skyline and Ground Zero with the aftermath of the september 11 devastation. This service has proven to be very popular with many tourists visiting the Big Apple. http://www.usatourist.com/english/reservations/affiliates/libertyhelicoptertours/liberty-helicopter-tours-main.html
Our California Driving Tours page has proven to be very popular with readers planning their USA vacations. We decided to add some additional driving tour pages beginning with a Southwest Driving Tours page that will list a number of routes out from Las Vegas, Nevada. Watch for it to appear in the next few weeks. Following that, we will try to create some eastern driving tours out of New York City and out of Orlando, Florida.
We recently added two pages about our Native American neighbors. The Havasupai Adventure page http://www.usatourist.com/english/adventures/travel/havasupai-reservation.html and the Navajo adventure page http://www.usatourist.com/english/adventures/travel/navajo-reservation.html are both about the homes of our Native American Indians. Maybe, we should add another page about cowboys just to balance things out. Watch for it!
We are attempting to improve our Bulletin Board. It has become a very popular place for our readers to exchange information and seek travel advice. We hope to replace the single bulletin board with multiple forums about various travel related issues and perhaps in various languages. We are working on the software to make this happen soon.
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