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"what is a second line?" text over a picture of a young african american boy playing a trumpet in a band uniform


You may have heard about the Bourbon Street Hurricanes’ Second Line March at Keystone for this year’s Mardi Gras Party & Gumbo Cookoff!

What is a second line and how does it relate to Keystone Festivals? Read on to learn the history of a second line, how it pertains to you, and why the Bourbon Street Hurricanes Second Line March is going to make this year the best Mardi Gras ever at Keystone!

a shot from inside a marching band, all members wearing light blue
History of the Second Line March

The second line tradition traces its lineage back to freed slaves living in the south after The Civil War. They were often barred from using insurance or loan companies, and consequently created their own local community agencies to assist with funeral and wedding costs (1). The celebrations of life thrown by community agencies were the first iteration of the second line as we know it today. The front of the parade was more formally organized, while the back of the parade invited all to join in celebrating a late community member (1). The “first line” includes the band, parade leader, and organizers, as well as the family being celebrated (1). The “second line” refers to the back half of the parade, to which everyone is invited to join in a show of community support. Next, you’ll learn where you can fit in to this unique piece of history!

a young child is seen from behind while dancing, one foot and arm out
The Second Line March and YOU!

The front line band, composed of traditional, “big-band” brass instruments, is followed by a snare drummer playing polyrhythmic dance beats to bring the energy and enthusiasm to the second line. What does that mean for you? Casual onlookers, locals, guests, and you, (yes, YOU!) are not only allowed but encouraged to join in the parade! The goal of the second line is to bring the community together in celebration. So, next time you stumble upon a second line, jump on in and bust a move with other joyful participants! Want to see a second line in action? Click here to see a second line in action!

A mom and kids dressed up in Fat Tuesday garb post in the center of River Run Village at Keystone's Mardi Gras party
Mardi Gras Party & Gumbo Cookoff 2024

Finally, now that you know what a second line is, you won’t want to miss the Keystone Mardi Gras Party & Gumbo Cookoff on Fat Tuesday, February 13th! Not only does 2024’s party bring back the legendary Gumbo Cook-Off, this year will be the second year of a second line at Keystone! There’s no celebration like Mardi Gras in Keystone and Bourbon Street Hurricanes will join us in the mountains for a Fat Tuesday to remember! If you’re lucky, you’ll happen upon the second line in the village after a fun day on the hill when the vibe is just right. Don’t forget to save your appetite for unlimited gumbo tasting in the village and laissez les bons temps roulez!

Follow the Second Line

Can’t get enough of the party in Keystone? Follow the Second Line throughout River Run Village to dance as much as possible!


(1) “The Second Line.” NewOrleans.Com.” New Orleans & Company, 12 April 2016.

Lastly, we would like to give a big thank you to the New Orleans tourism website for providing insightful history and commentary about second lines for all our guests, staff, and vendors to learn about!