Rumor: 'Flashers' at New Orleans Mardi Gras will be arrested

Contrary to popular belief, public nudity is still frowned upon in the Big Easy

CONFIRMED: Public nudity at New Orleans is illegal, even during Mardi Gras

Planning on earning some beads at New Orleans' Mardi Gras festivities? Turns out that getting naked isn't required and, in fact, may result in a fine and a night in the slammer.

A long tradition

By most accounts, throwing beads or other small, inexpensive wearables during Mardi Gras dates back to at least the late 19th century. The traditional purpose of giving beads is typically described as wishing another person luck or simply sharing in some collective merriment. But while "flashing" isn't in any of the "official" Mardi Gras traditions, the practice appears to have gone on at least as long as beads have been thrown. Nuevo Mundo notes that as early as 1889, the New Orleans Times-Democrat wrote about public nudity during the festivities, lamenting the "degree of immodesty exhibited by nearly all female masqueraders seen on the streets."

See Mardi Gras photos

'Guilty of lewd conduct'

Mardi Gras and flashing may go back more than 100 years, but according to New Orleans City Ordinance "A person is guilty of lewd conduct if he intentionally performs any lewd act in a public place when such act is likely to be observed by a person." A separate part of the section goes on to include exposing "genitals" and/or "breasts" as constituting a lewd act. Getting caught and convicted of flashing will cost you $100 and no less than 30 hours of community service.

Video: A history of Mardi Gras



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