This chapter explores the intangible legacy of the New Orleans Mardi Gras, a religious festival that has been celebrated in the city for over 300 years, which has evolved into a mega event with over 1.4 million visitors each year. Mardi Gras has long been associated with good-humoured resistance and protest concerning social injustices. The New Orleans Mardi Gras is no exception, raising issues associated with race, gender and sexuality, which have produced intangible legacies. Three periods of protest are identified with examples of resistance given, including the Mardi Gras Indians, Zulu Krewe and Million Dollar Baby Dolls. But as the New Orleans Mardi Gras has become increasingly commercialised, it has been politically sanitised and now tends to celebrate past successes rather than challenge present injustices.
Fact: The New Orleans Mardi Gras has an economic legacy by providing year-round income to the city through tourism. It also has an intangible legacy of highlighting and challenging contemporary issues of social injustice.
Fairy Tale: The New Orleans Mardi Gras is a religious festival with a religious legacy. In reality, it is a ‘Disneyfied’ leisure mega event that has tenuous religious links but does bring to the public’s attention social inequality issues associated with gender, race and sexuality.