A Mardi Gras float is a place for krewe members to ride during the parades.
Around the mid 1800’s Mardi Gras floats were horse drawn carts and wagons. To light the way for the parade, young slaves and free men of color (known as flambeaux carriers) carried torches and followed along with the floats.
As the years went on, horses were replaced with trucks and semi tractor-trailers. There can be 20 or more people on any one float at a time. Many krewes choose a new theme and redesign their floats every year, some floats are classics and are reused every year.
Each krewe chooses their annual Mardi Gras theme and their floats are redesigned, painted, and upgraded to reflect that theme and put them in prime condition in time for Carnival parading season. Float designers work for months to create colorful creations.The process of cleaning, painting, and designing a float can take months, and costs thousands of dollars. The props and set pieces that are used to create a float are normally made from foam, plywood, plastic, and other materials.
Once the parade is done the floats are stored in giant storage facilities (dens) to await a new look for the next year.