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Later, Rex would parade with an actual bull, draped in white and signaling the coming Lenten meat fast. In the early 1740s, Louisiana's governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls, which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons.
From here, the traditional revelry of "Boeuf Gras," or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies.
The earliest reference to Mardi Gras "Carnival" appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body.
That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association was the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.