If only these 1929 revelers knew how people get their Mardi Gras beads nowadays — surely, they’d catch the vapors. But Mardi Gras celebrations more than 80 years ago contained their share of mischief , too. Before Mardi Gras kicks off next week, check out this Associated Press account of the 1929 Mardi Gras celebration, which featured parading “on the slightest provocation,” and “promiscuous kissing” until dusk.

Large crowds reach up for beads as the Jester float in the traditional Rex parade rolls down Canal Street on Mardi Gras in 2011. (Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images)

New Orleans joyously and noisily celebrated Mardi Gras in its traditional manner.

Rex, king of the carnival, who headed a parade of twenty floats throughout the city, has issued instruction to “let joy be unconfined,” and it was. From an early hour this morning until late tonight the streets were packed with revelers determined to have as much fun as possible before the 1929 Mardi Gras passed into history.

All of New Orleans and thousands of visitors turned out to give Rex a welcome befitting the king of the carnival. The parade he led depicted the “outline of history,” and each float presented a development from the time of Moses to the career of Napoleon. While Rex rode throughout the city waving and bowing from his throne atop the float his admirers danced, leaped and shouted to show their loyalty to the God of Misrule. The carnival revelers were dressed in all kinds of outlandish costumes.

The Druids and Comus parades also were held to supplement that of Rex, and earlier in the day king Zulu led his negro admirers in a procession. Tonight the Rex, Comus and Druid balls were held.

But that was not all of Mardi Gras. Unnumbered impromptu parades were held. The masked merrymakers would parade on the slightest provocation, or for no reason at all, and were always acclaimed with cheers. In addition to the more formal balls tonight there were hundreds of less pretentious affairs.

Promiscuous kissing was in order until dusk tonight and the opportunity was not passed idly by. At dusk, however, the masks had to be removed in compliance with a municipal law, and promiscuous kissing was no longer in order.


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