Arthur Hardy has been publishing his Mardi Gras Guide for more than 30 years, and in addition to his 164-page magazine, he released his book “Mardi Gras in New Orleans: An Illustrated History.” Released in November, it is the fifth edition and published by his own publishing company, Arthur Hardy Enterprises.
His book chronicles the history of Mardi Gras from ancient times in Europe to post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
Hardy grew up in Mid-City, and after getting married in 1972 he and his wife, Susan, lived in Uptown, Gentilly and Metairie, and moved near the Causeway in Mandeville in 2007.
Music was his hobby and he played several instruments including the trumpet, baritone and then trombone at John Dibert Elementary, Beauregard Junior High and at Warren Easton High School. In 1962, he was voted the most outstanding male student in junior high school, then in 1965 received the same title in high school.
“My mother used to take me to the parades on the streetcar and bus,” said Hardy, adding that they didn’t own a car but he loved the parades. “I marched in the parades with the Warren Easton band.”
Hardy received a degree from Loyola University in 1970. He taught instrumental music and served as band director at Brother Martin High School. His role as band director helped him connect to the parade krewes, and the first digest-size Mardi Gras magazine was printed in 1977.
“My writing experience was limited to working on my school newspaper and yearbook,” he said, adding that the first magazine was a financial disaster. “We almost gave up after the first issue sold only 1,500 copies of the 5,000 printed.”
Today, his weeks are full of television interviews with dozens of parade captains and multiple invites to carnival parties.
But Hardy never forgot his roots, especially his high school Warren Easton, where the school’s auditorium carries his name. He was the founding member of the Warren Easton Charter Foundation, which reopened the school after Hurricane Katrina thanks to Hardy and Sandra Bullock, the Oscar-winning actress who owns a home in New Orleans.
“Sandra was looking for a worthwhile cause to help after Katrina, and a mutual friend in the Rex organization, which stepped up to help public schools after the storm, put her in touch with me in my role on the Warren Easton Charter Foundation board,” Hardy explained. “She visited the school and fell in love with the kids, and we have been working together for nine years now and I consider her a friend.”
Hardy has appeared on NBC’s “Today” show six times and has worked for multiple radio and television stations. His Mardi Gras Guide magazine has sold more than 3 million copies. He has donated a large portion of his Mardi Gras memorabilia collection to Loyola University.
Among the newer trends of Mardi Gras, Hardy says, is the incredible success of the female clubs.
And although his days are full of interviews, parties and book signings, his heart always stays true to the long-held traditions.
“I am still a street guy at heart, so it is always about the parades,” he said. “I never grow tired of seeing them.”