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down the streets trailed by brass bands known as second lines.
That’s also the result of its Catholic origins. Lent, a time of fasting and giving up earthly pleasures, begins on Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras. Historically, Mardi Gras was a chance to engage in revelry before 40 days of lean living. In other words, it was the binge before the purge. Today, Mardi Gras celebrations certainly bring to mind images of people bingeing. The tourist experience of Mardi Gras is one of drinking on Bourbon Street, crowding the bars, and staying up all night. While you can definitely have that Mardi Gras if you want it, most locals will tell you that the “real” Mardi Gras is something else entirely. “Mainstream media tends to showcase a very specific kind of Mardi Gras,” says Solange Knowles, “but my experience of Mardi Gras is very different; it’s very cultural.” These cultural traditions were created by social clubs called krewes. The krewes create floats, dress in ornate costumes, and parade
The official food of Mardi Gras is king cake. Though called a cake, it’s actually more of an iced bread; the dough closely resembles brioche. On top of the cake, you’ll find icing in green, gold, and purple, which are the colors of the Mardi Gras flag. A figurine called a feve is hidden inside the cake, usually in the shape of a baby. It is considered good luck to be the person whose slice has the figurine inside. All of these institutions are still in place today and have come to represent what Mardi Gras means to residents. Mardi Gras in the United States is now a celebration of distinctly New Orleans culture as much as it is a festive release before Lent. From the music and the food to the costumes and the parades, Mardi Gras is New Orleans. Or, as legendary NOLA pianist Professor Longhair once sang, “If you go to New Orleans / You ought to go see the Mardi Gras.”
At first, the people who participated in the festivities were of mostly French or Catholic heritage.
Eventually, though, it morphed into a citywide party more secular than religious in nature.
In addition to the Gulf Coast of the United States, Mardi Gras celebrations occur throughout the world. In Brazil, where it is known as Carnival, it is the nation’s most celebrated and well-known holiday. It’s also a major event in Belgium, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands, and Germany.
No matter where Mardi Gras happens, it’s always something of a bacchanalian feast.
One for the Ages How Super Bowl XXXIV Made an Icon Out of a Grocery Store Clerk
to the Lombardi Trophy, but the late Steve McNair and the Titans had different plans. The Georgia Dome was rocking after two Eddie George touchdown runs, and a field goal brought the Titans level at 16–16, with just over two minutes of play remaining. In response, Warner dropped back and found receiver Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard
Going into the 1999 NFL season, no one expected anything from the St. Louis Rams. When starting quarterback Trent Green went down with a gruesome knee injury in the preseason, ESPN The Magazine slated the Rams to be the worst team in the NFL that year. With few options, coach Vermeil named a virtually unknown player as his new starting quarterback, humbly stating in a press conference, “We will rally around Kurt Warner, and we’ll play good football.”
touchdown, bringing the score to 23–16 with 1:54 left on the clock. But the Titans weren’t done fighting.
Quickly moving the ball down the field, Titans quarterback Steve McNair found himself with a third and 5 inside the Rams 30-yard line with 22 seconds left. Scrambling around and fighting off two players trying to pull him down, McNair threw the ball to Kevin Dyson at the 10-yard line.
Five years before his start, 22-year-old Kurt Warner was stocking shelves at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for $5.50 an hour. However, he had amassed a whopping 16 snaps in the NFL prior to taking the reins for the 1999 season, and what proceeded to transpire on the field was utter pandemonium, giving the Rams the nickname “The Greatest Show on Turf.”This improbable season and the resulting MVP award for Warner set the stage for one of the most dramatic games in Super Bowl history. After going up 16–0 against the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, Warner and the Rams looked poised to coast on their way
A quick timeout left six seconds on the clock, and the Titans were one play away from tying the game. What proceeded was a play that will be forever known as “the tackle.”McNair found Dyson on a quick slant, and when he caught the ball at the 4-yard line, it appeared a touchdown was imminent. Suddenly, linebacker Mike Jones wrapped the receiver up at the hips. As he fell to the ground with the ball in his hand, Dyson extended his arm, but when he hit the AstroTurf, he was 1 yard short of the goal line. The Rams had pulled off the impossible, earning their first Super Bowl title ever.
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