For Mardi Gras float makers, next year is here

STACEY PLAISANCE Associated Press Published:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Carnival in New Orleans is building toward the out-of-control crescendo of Fat Tuesday. But Barry Kern and his team of float-builders and artists are already planning for next year's party.

Kern's Mardi Gras World studio has been operating for more than 50 years and makes or repurposes some 400 floats a year.

Construction crews work to build the huge floats, which sometimes showcase double-deckers and carry dozens of riders. Teams of painters, artists and sculptors make props and decorations. It takes an entire year to prepare enough floats to roll through the streets of New Orleans and its suburbs.

It's a big business, too. Kern won't say what his company takes in, but each float can cost from $10,000 to $100,000 and they're getting more elaborate each year.