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Mardi Gras Mambo

For many Americans, New Orleans and Mardi Gras are near synonymous — and last year’s Carnival marked a 25-year high in partygoers visiting the Big Easy. Before we break out our feather boas and doubloons, here’s a look at the festivities, by the numbers.

Mardi Gras Mambo

Mardi Gras Mambo Infographic: Mardi Gras Mambo

1.2 MILLION people attended Mardi Gras festivities last year—3.5 times the population of New Orleans.

The City on New Orleans Spends $3.33 MILLION on Mardi Gras each year. It sees a return of $4.48 for every public dollar spent.

Hotels take in $56 million over the 12 days. Prices for a double room on Bourbon Street increase 151% over any other time during the year.

The 12-days party includes 87 parades put on by 54 different krewes.

Mardi Gras always kicks off 59 days before Easter.

The Endymion and Bacchus superparades feature 75 floats and 60 marching bands.

2,300 members toss 1.5 million plastic cups, 2.5 million doubloons, and 200,000 beads to parade bystanders.

The Mardi Gras Indians craft the most elaborate parade costumes.

Each sequined and ostrich-plume-covered costume has 100,000-plus beads and weighs 150 lbs.

There are 3,000 bars in New Orleans, THE HURRICANE is considered the cocktail of Mardi Gras: 4 oz. LIGHT AND DARK RUM, 2 oz. PASSION-FUIRT JUICE, 1 OZ. ORANGE JUICE, 1/2 OZ. LIME JUICE, AND 1/2 OZ. GRENADINE.

Haydel's Bakery Sells 57,000 yellow, green, and purple king cakes—bakes with plastic doll inside—during Mardia Gras. That's enough to give 2 million people, or all of Slovenia, a slice.

In 2010, Haydel's baked the world's LARGEST king cake: IT wrapped around the Louisiana Superdome twice and fed 6,000 folks. That's roughly 92,890 bonus bottles of Southern Comfort. Alcohol sales spiked $2.6 MILLION during the festivities.

In 154 years, Mardi Gras celebrations have been canceled 13 times—for, among other reasons, a YELLOW-FEVER epidemic and riots during the Reconstruction—but not after Hurricane Katrina.

700,000 people partied at the post-Katrina Mardi Gras, the only year corporate sponsorship was allowed.

Glad donated 2,100 boxes of trash bags.

For every 1 women who participates in the FLASHING ritual for beads, there are 10 men with video cameras ready to record it. Girls Gone Wild has 6 films dedicated to Mardi Gras.

7 out of 10 Americans polled in 2009 said they support making Mardi Gras A NATIONAL HOLIDAY

[Infographic Typography by Julie Teninbaum]

A version of this article appeared in the March 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.