See the Workshop Where Mardi Gras Parade Floats Are Born

Eldon Baldwin Follow, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Eldon Baldwin Follow, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) means king cake, colorful beads, and elaborate parade floats rolling through the French Quarter. If you can't make it to New Orleans on carnival day, there are still ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in the Big Easy the other 364 days of the year—you just have to know where to look. At Mardi Gras World, visitors can tour the warehouse where Mardi Gras sculptures are built and get a sneak peak at upcoming parade floats, Smithsonian reports.

Mardi Gras World invites the public into Kern Studios, the workshop where the most elaborate and iconic displays are built for the New Orleans's parades. Open since 1984, about 200,000 visitors explore the site each year to learn about the history of the Mardi Gras celebration, see floats from years past, and see sculptures in the process of being made for upcoming parades. The 30-minute guided tour includes a video presentation, a photo op with Mardi Gras costumes and props, and a slice of king cake.

With the theme of the Mardi Gras festival changing year to year, Mardi Gras World has produced a diverse array of sculptures, including Day of the Dead skeletons and the Incredible Hulk. The workshop also builds statue props that have ended up in a Mobile, Alabama art installation, at the stadium where the Atlanta Braves play, and on the Las Vegas strip.

Mardi Gras World holds tours seven days a week with tickets costing $22 for adults. Check out the pictures below for a sneak peek inside the studio.

Float in Mardis Gras World.
Richard Martin, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Statues at Mardis Gras World.
Bob Jagendorf, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Mardis Gras float at Mardis Gras World.
Erin Pawlicki, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Gorilla statue at Mardi Gras World.
Thomas Hawk, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

[h/t Smithsonian]

Texas’s Magnolia Hotel—a Reputed Paranormal Hotspot—Will Be Opening Its Doors to Overnight Guests

iStock/THEPALMER
iStock/THEPALMER

Those who view The Shining’s Overlook Hotel as a desirable vacation spot now have the chance to make their spooky dreams come true. The Magnolia Hotel—supposedly haunted by a total of 13 ghosts—will soon open its doors to overnight visitors.

Located in Seguin, Texas, the hotel’s history can be traced back to 1840, when Texas Ranger James Campbell first constructed a log cabin on the property. The cabin later expanded into a hotel, which saw some success in the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Unfortunately, the hotel was then abandoned for many years, and was almost lost to extreme disrepair. In an effort to save it, members of Preserve Texas placed the building on the organization's Most Endangered Historic Places list along with several other sites. It eventually captured the attention of current owners Jim Ghedi and Erin Wallace Ghedi, who bought the Magnolia Hotel in March 2013.

It didn’t take long for the Ghendis to realize something strange was going on. According to Country Living, the couple began experiencing supernatural events as soon as repairs commenced. Photos showed strange figures climbing out of mirrors; doors would be heard slamming by unknown forces; and shadowy outlines could be glimpsed hovering in doorways.

It’s no surprise the Magnolia Hotel is haunted given its gruesome history. Not too long after he built the original log cabin, James Campbell was reportedly killed by Native Americans during a trip to San Antonio. Three decades later, notorious Texan serial killer Wilhelm "William" Faust traveled to the nearby town of New Braunfels in order to kill his wife. He instead mistakenly butchered Emma Voeckler—the 12-year-old girl who was unfortunately sharing a room with his wife at the time—and fled to the Magnolia Hotel before his arrest. Some claim one of the ghosts is poor Emma, eternally bound to the area where her killer hid directly after her death.

The hotel’s website states that overnight reservations will open on August 12 on a first-come, first-served basis. Accommodations include fully restored suites consisting of two bedrooms, a full bath with a walk-in shower, and a non-cooking kitchen. Guests and non-guests alike can also partake in the hotel’s guided ghost tours, which the site warns are “not for the faint of heart.”

This Adjustable Bag Mate Makes Traveling Anywhere Much More Convenient

NEX
NEX

Carrying a backpack for a long period of time can lead to aching in your neck, back, or shoulders. Plus, keeping essentials in your bag, like a passport or phone, can make them a hassle to retrieve when necessary. NEX, now raising money on Kickstarter, is a three-in-one bag mate that makes traveling with a backpack pain-free and convenient.

This new "bag mate" is designed with air cushions that evenly distribute the weight of your backpack across your shoulders. Since it makes your bag feel 30 percent lighter, it also helps improve your posture.

NEX features functional and hidden pockets to not only make it easier to grab your essentials when on the go, but also keep them secured—since they are much safer on your shoulders than in your bag where people can easily steal them. Each strap is designed with three inner pockets as well as a hidden pocket to store everyday valuables such as your keys or cash.

Cash and keys going in a pocket on a NEX bag mate
NEX

Sometimes a backpack isn't necessary for quick outings, so NEX can act as a cross-body bag as well. Easily clip it on and adjust the fit to your liking, and now NEX can be used when you're simply going out for a run or grabbing groceries. Plus, it's designed with recycled waterproof material, meaning you don't have to worry about your valuables getting damaged due to the weather.

guy walking with blue cross body bag
NEX

With over a week left in its campaign, NEX has already surpassed its goal of $1000, raising over $47,000 as of June 25. By pledging $19 or more, you can get your own bag mate on KickStarter. Shipping is scheduled for August.

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