What Are Flambeaux?
The tradition of Flambeaux lighting New Orleans' Mardi Gras night parades emerged in the mid-1850s. The name comes from the French word flambe, meaning “flame.” Dressed like Bedouin traders in robes and turbans fashioned from bed sheets to protect them from dripping torch fuel, the Flambeaux marched, or more accurately danced, beside the floats to illuminate the whimsical or satirical parade decorations on poorly-lit 19th century streets.
Since the advent of electrical street lights, Flambeaux, of course, are no longer necessary. However, since Mardi Gras is not about necessity, but fun, the Flambeaux have continued to march in night parades, dancing and twirling their torches to the delight of the crowd.
They are the light of the New Orleans Carnival.