Grand Marais Mardi Gras Association embraces tradition through hand-crafted customs

Mardi Gras
Grand Marais Mardi Gras tradition

The Grand Marais Mardi Gras Association takes pride in the family-oriented celebration of parades with floats, bands, beads and more. Members say it’s also the history behind the costumes that make the season special. 

The traditions from the Grand Marais Mardi Gras association dates back to the early 1940s. It’s the growth of these elaborate customs that’s keeping their legacy alive today.

“It’s really whatever they can get together. Because it’s all hand made and it’s all done here locally,” said Tina Olivier with the Grand Marais Mardi gras Association. 
Olivier describes how the association was established in 1980. A time when the handcrafted wear became possible.  “The wives actually made beaded-cotton customs for their husbands to wear.and frolic in. then it started, the ladies added on and they had the customs so they can party with their husbands,” said Olivier. 

From cotton to frill, the customs evolved over time and eventually became apart of all the carnival fun. “As the next age group got involved, it was a competition like they said. Everybody wanted to outdo everybody,” Olivier added. 

Passing things down from generation to generation, long-time resident Chris Boutte said it’s truly the heart behind their celebration. “This time of the year, it’s everything. Things stop. People take a vacation,” said Boutte. 

He believes it brings people together. This includes his family as his dad was recently crowned the 2019 Golden King and his daughter was selected as the dutchess. 

“Ah, I love it,” said Butte. “It means they’re going to start young and they’re going to grow up into it and that’s all we had here. It’s Mardis Gras in Grand Marais.”

To get an up close and personal look at all the customs, their Mardi Gras festivities continue Friday at Club Mon Ami. Dances are taking place throughout the weekend, a ball, costume contests and parties that lead up to their annual parade. 

For Grand Marais parade entries, call Marilyn Olivier at 337-256-0370 or Tina Olivier at 337-339-8654. 

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