NEW ORLEANS-- The tradition of the flambeaux dates back to the beginning of Mardi Gras. In fact, nighttime Mardi Gras was non-existent without the free men of color and enslaved Africans lighting the way for the pageantry of the parades.
The word 'flambeau' means a flaming torch, and the early ones we made of several thick wicks dipped in wax.
While the illumination is no longer needed, they remain a valued part of New Orleans Mardi Gras. We followed along as the flambeaux carriers that work the Krewe of Sparta got ready for their big night.