No-Tsu-Oh Invitation, circa 1899 - From the George Fuermann Texas and Houston Collection, originally uploaded by Mr. Kimberly.
Houston used to have a Mardi Gras-like festival called No-Tsu-Oh. It started in 1899 and ended the outbreak of WW1. To quote the Handbook of Texas Online,
"The festival, designed to stimulate commerce by bringing people to the city, customarily filled a week in November and featured parades, balls, and a football game between the University of Texas and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). The carnival was characterized by much backward spelling. No-Tsu-Oh, for example, is Houston spelled backward; black citizens celebrated the De-Ro-Loc (colored) Carnival; and King Nottoc (cotton) reigned over the early festivals until King Retaw (water) replaced him to celebrate completion in 1914 of the deep-water channel to Houston..."
Like Las Vegas' Helldorado celebration, a modern No-Tsu-Oh has the promise to contain all the eccentricity and strangeness that Houston has to offer. Combine the Art Car Parade with debauchery of St. Pat's and the guilt-free paganess of Halloween and that would be my dream.
With backwards spelling part of the tradition, I offer up these suggestions as a starting point for the new festival.
Y Loc Nolem
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- No-tsu-oh backers bid to resurrect bygone bash | Houston Business Journal - 1997
- Houston Mardi Gras organizers hope to create tradition | khou.com | khou.com Local News
- Houston Mardi Gras: What Does Galveston Think? - Houston Art - Art Attack
- Museum of Houston
- Handbook of Texas Online - NO-TSU-OH
- Bayou City History -- Houston: Tek Ram calls you!