Many who grew up in New Orleans in the 1970s recall the year that a police strike almost cancelled Mardi Gras. A significant number of parades were cancelled due to the strike in 1979, but enough floats covered in Mardi Gras decorations took to the streets to make for a representative celebration. Even after Hurricane Katrina, the celebration was scaled back, but did not cease; Mardi Gras beads took to the air just months after the storm, and some persistent revelers took to storm-ravaged streets as they always had. In fact, 2006 was the year that many believed New Orleans most needed their carnival celebration, in order to restore the traditions that had united the city for generations. These stories tell us something about Mardi Gras and its importance in the lives of the people of South Louisiana. For many, it is a holiday that is practically on par with Christmas in terms of importance.
This is not to say that Mardi Gras has never been cancelled. The Mardi Gras masks, costumes, floats, beads, Mardi Gras hats, and full-scale decorations on homes and businesses were scarce during the worst parts of the Civil War, WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. Understandably, parading in times of dire national emergency would not have been prudent when resources were scarce. However, aside from these times, Mardi Gras persisted, despite calamity or political controversy. To date, parading in New Orleans has only been cancelled 13 times since 1857.
Even during the 13 cancellations, it is doubtful that the smaller celebrations of Mardi Gras that took place in private homes ceased. No doubt, during those years many families across the Gulf South enjoyed traditions such as the baking of King Cakes, the main confection of Mardi Gras. It is clear that this critical holiday is simply irrepressible.