4 of 8 parades is big news. I’ve written about parade problems in Jefferson Parish before, including this entry about West Bank parade difficulties. Violations abound, and the krewes could lose their right to parade if they commit further violations in 2016.
I personally believe first violations should receive a warning. Mardi Gras krewes are a precious commodity. It takes oodles of cash, tight administration, organization skills and lots of dedicated people to successfully launch a parading organization. Mardi Gras krewes don’t grow on trees, they need to be nurtured carefully. Intentionally bruising Mardi Gras krewes helps ensure fewer krewes.
While the ordinance has been in effect for 2 years with no infractions noted before, putting half your krewes on probation is never a good idea. Why not ban Carnival in Slidell while the Council is at it?
The four offending krewes are Dionysus, the Slidell’s Woman’s Civic Club, Claude and Perseus. The four parades without letters are the two walking parades, Mona Lisa and MoonPie and Krewe de Paws of Olde Towne plus Selene and Titans.
Over the last few decades, a hands off attitude concerning local parades was in effect. Things got tough in 2013 when the Slidell City Council adopted a litany of rules and regulations governing Carnival. New Orleans had toughened their parade regulations, and Slidell followed their lead. Reasons for probation- insufficient floats, riders, and bands; inefficient parade tempo; inappropriate dancing and music (?). This seems very petty. Parades are mile long, living processions that sometimes develop gaps. DJs have to produce hours of music. Once every blue moon, a curse word may sneak in a song. It’s not the end of the world. It certainly doesn’t mean probation.
Something seems out of whack to me. Dionysus captain Andy Frisard mentioned an email informing krewes about a meeting which stated failing to attend could jeopardize their permits. That set the meeting off on a unfriendly tone. Why threaten your krewes, who work hard and spend a small fortune to produce their parade for the good of the community?
Contrast this with the response of the Jefferson Parish council, which recently gave Jefferson krewes high marks even though apparently many parade infractions occurred. Questionable throws and fighting are among the violations committed. It looks like Jefferson is getting lax while Slidell is tightening the screws.Jefferson krewes committed some egregious violations and got away with them! Throwing light bulbs (2014) and drug testing kits (2015) to the crowd is downright sick and dangerous. Who is the Jefferson Council kidding by granting this clean bill of krewe health? It turns out a Captain in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office filed suit in March 2014 in Jefferson Parish against 2 float riders in the Corps du Napoleon parade. Here’s the digest of the suit from Louisianarecord.com- GRETNA – A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office captain is suing a pair of Mardi Gras float riders, as well as the Mardi Krewe and the float’s sponsor for injuries he allegedly received in an incident on board their float. Claude Wood Jr., and wife Cindy, filed suit against Brian E. Duhe, Kyle T. Crochet, TP Clearview, Corps De Napoleon and their insurers in the 24th Judicial District Court on Jan. 16. Wood, a captain in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, alleges that on March 2, 2014 riders aboard a Corps De Napoleon float, sponsored by Twin Peaks restaurant, started unscrewing light bulbs from the float and throwing them into the crowd during a Mardi Gras parade. The plaintiff contends that he boarded the float to confront the riders when he was attacked by Duhe and Crochet, employees of Twin Peaks who allegedly failed to monitor their alcohol consumption and monitor their employee’s actions. Wood asserts he was injured in the incident and had to be treated at a local hospital. The defendants are is accused of failing to act with care and diligence, failing to take into account the safety of others, failing to prevent the throwing of lights bulbs from the float, failing to recognize the float riders were impaired and providing and encouraging alcohol consumption. Damages in excess of $75,000 is sought for physical pain and discomfort, mental anguish, disability, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, aggravation, annoyance, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of use of parts of body, bodily disability, impairment of psychological functioning, destruction of earning capacity, loss of support, loss of society and loss of consortium. Wood is represented by Robert. T. Evans of New Orleans-based Burgos & Evans. The case has been assigned to Division G Judge E. Adrian Adams. Case no. 745-922. –
What’s the motivation here? Jefferson Parish has been recently burned by old line krewes abandoning the parish for greener pastures on St. Charles Avenue. A check of sanctions passed by Jefferson in the last few years shows in 2012, 5 krewes were fined $1,300. The next year, 6 krewes were penalized $6,000. Last year, 1 krewe was fined $500. Slidell hasn’t lost any krewes to sanctions or parade route jumping yet. It should be interesting in Slidell the next few years.
The only place I’d move to if I had to leave New Orleans is Lafayette. I’ve spent many a good time in Lafayette, eating the amazing food, going to the fantastic festivals, hearing the Cajun and Zydeco hybrid bands, and meeting the wonderful people. New Orleans is Creole Louisiana and Lafayette is Cajun Louisiana. They have their own unique Cajun Mardi Gras with one of a kind Cajun traditions.
Courir de Mardi Gras means Mardi Gras Run. The event is held in many Cajun communities on Fat Tuesday.
Barry Ancelet, Cajun historian and head of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Folklore Department, has explained the origin of the Courir as being in rural medieval France: It’s an early springtime renewal and essentially a way for communities to celebrate and find themselves.
Southwest Louisiana shares in this tradition, collecting ingredients for a communal gumbo is the theme behind the run.
Led by a flag-bearing capitaine, this colorful and noisy procession of masked and costumed men on horses and wagons go from house to house in the countryside asking for charity in return for a performance of dancing, acrobatics and buffoonery. The participants are earnestly employed chasing chickens, the most valued offering, and they pride themselves on their ability to collect enough live chickens to feed the entire community free of charge.
One of the most endearing aspects of the historical Courir are the local variations that exist in each major town, such as Mamou, Soileau, Church Point, Basile, Choupic, Gheenes, and Elton, among others.
The rural Mardi Gras celebration is based on early begging rituals, similar to those still celebrated by mummers, wassailers and celebrants of Halloween. As Mardi Gras is the celebration of the final day before Lent, participants and celebrants imbibe and eat heavily, and also dress in specialized costumes, to protect their identities.
La Chanson de Mardi Gras, the Mardi Gras song, known in the local Cajun French as La Danse de Mardi Gras and La Vieille Chanson de Mardi Gras, is a traditional tune sung by the participants, although the exact lyrics vary greatly from town to town. The melody of the traditional folk song is similar to melodies of the Bretons from the northern coast of France. The tune is played in a minor mode not generally found in other Cajun music. This version is sung at by the wonderful Cajun and Alt-Country band Feufollet at the Bluemoon Saloon and Guest House near the Henderson Swamp.
Another story for both my blogs, as this sad tale has to do with Mardi Gras crime. Apparently Tulane University hasn’t sought out NOPD for help in solving the robbery. Hundreds of old krewe items, including including invitations, favors, badges and other memorabilia was taken. Tulane University police attended a recent meeting of the Mardi Gras Memorabilia Society to inform members about the theft and to ask for their help.
It has been known for some time that the Tulane Carnival Collection had lax security. Among the more valuable missing items was a 1858 Krewe of Comus ball invitation and admittance card. Comus was formed the year before, making these items extremely rare.
The list of missing memorabilia is more than 40 pages long and includes hundreds of valuable items including a Falstaffian (turn of the century krewe, long gone) dance card; a bunch of REX medals; Elves of Oberon pins; and much more.
Rafael Monzon, a long time Mardi Gras memorabilia collector, said the items, as a group, could be worth $250,000 or more. Monzon said entire folders of material are gone, including the 1887 file from Krewe of Proteus, creator of the city’s second oldest parade. He said world of Mardi Gras memorabilia collectors is small, and vintage pieces can sell for hundreds of dollars.
Much of the missing Tulane collection are invitations and paper items, as they don’t take up much space or weight.
On the topic of old Mardi Gras ball favors, I found this wonderful page on Pinterest, it’s by Alaina and Lily Hauver and it’s called Forgotten Mardi Gras Krewes. Here’s the link.
There is only one Mardi Gras in America older than the New Orleans Mardi Gras, and that is Mobile’s, only 144 miles away. Begun by Nicholas Langlois of France in 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans was founded, although today the Crescent City’s celebration is much more widely known. In Mobile, the first capital of French Louisiana (1702), the festival began as a French Catholic tradition, as do Mardi Gras around the world.
Mardi Gras in Mobile has now evolved into a mainstream multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures in Mobile, becoming school holidays for the final Monday and Tuesday (some include Wednesday),regardless of religious affiliation. Much the same has happened in New Orleans. In downtown Mobile, there are 38 parades over 3 weeks. Baldwin County has a dozen major parades, and outside of downtown there are several parades as well.
When examining the Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Mardi Gras in Mobile, I’m struck by one huge similarity; both have fascinating histories. New Orleans has its ribald parades, Krewe du Vieux for example, but Mobile doesn’t.
Mobile has a number of strange, historic, and strong Mardi Gras traditions. One of my favorites is Joe Cain Day. Joe Cain is credited with re-starting the Mobile Mardi Gras after the War Between the States. In 1868, Joe Cain costumed as Slacabamorinico, a make believe Chickasaw Chief. The Chickasaw, a legendary fighting force, had never been defeated in battle throughout their history. Cain had been in New Orleans the year before for the Fireman’s Day Parade. The next day was Mardi Gras Day, and Cain was impressed with what he saw. His costume was an indirect insult to the still occupying Union force, since the Chickasaw had always won in battle.
A half dozen former Confederate veterans joined Cain later in the day, riding in a decorated coal wagon playing musical instruments. They became known as the L. C. Minstrel Band, now known as the Lost Cause Minstrels of Mobile.
No day is greater than Joe Cain Day. Cain is honored on the Sunday before Mardi Gras every year with a graveyard procession featuring Cain’s Merry Widows, who dress in 1800s funeral attire and weep and wail for their beloved husband. Once they’ve finished this ritual, the Widows throw black beads and black roses to the crowd and head over to Cain’s original home in the Oakleigh Historic District, where they are invited in for cocktails and bicker over who was his favorite.
In the afternoon, the Mistresses of Joe Cain lead the Joe Cain Procession, also known as the People’s Parade, featuring homemade floats made by groups of local friends, families, businesses, churches, and schools. Lasting all afternoon, it is the longest parade of Carnival, and it draws in the neighborhood of 150,000 participants and onlookers.
Cain helped to organize the T.D.S. (Tea Drinker’s Society), one of Mobile’s mystic societies, in 1846; however, their banquets were part of Mobile’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, rather than being held on Mardi Gras day. Other groups had developed Mardi Gras parades, but the Civil War had brought them to a halt.
He’s buried in Mobile in the Church Street graveyard. His gravestone says-
Here lies old Joe Cain
The heart and soul of Mardi Gras in Mobile
Joseph Stillwell Cain
Slacabamorinico – Old Slac
From the blog.al.com web site-
In the final Mardi Gras parade, Folly and Death ride the same float. Folly tries to beat death, since Folly is the only one who would try. Mardi Gras is the one time of the year when Folly triumphs over death. Except today, Fat Tuesday.
They ride the first float of the last parade of Carnival, which is presented by Mobile’s oldest and most storied Mardi Gras organization, the Order of Myths. Pulled by mules and illuminated by flambeaux, the float looks like it did generations ago, creating a portal that carries revelers back to the late 19th century. On the float, Folly chases Death around a broken column — what the OOMs refer to as “the broken column of life.”
During that cartoonish chase, round and round, Folly beats on Death with three inflated pig bladders, painted gold and tied to a broomstick, emitting loud whacks that can be heard across the parade route. The symbolism couldn’t be more universal, and the message couldn’t be closer to the heart of Carnival. Only Folly would ever try to beat Death, since Death always wins.
Except today, Fat Tuesday.
I live on the far side of Carrollton, and not far from my house is this business.The Hair Store was started by Euginie Saussaye In 1877. Today the business is run by 4th and 5th generations. Saussaye began the business by making hair pieces by hand for the French Opera House. Saussaye taught his grandson, Herbert Saussaye, the hair goods business. Herbert became known as the most recognized name in the hair goods business in the region.
In the 1950, Herbert opened his own shop in the French Quarter at 805 Royal Street. The business continued to prosper as the hair goods market grew over time. Herbert’s children run the business today, and their children are active the company. The business has diversified, and includes a specialization in theatrical make up, for use in the entertainment industry. Today they also carry a wide variety of wigs, masks, costumes and costume props. In April of 2002, the Hair Store left their French Quarter neighborhood and moved to 8224 Maple Street.
The staff is very knowledgeable and the selection is second to none. You won’t believe some of the make up kits the store sells. James Rizzuto is known in Carnival circles as the Wig Master. A makeup artist for Vieux Carré Hair Shop, he spends Mardi Gras backstage at more than a dozen balls, preparing kings, captains, pages, clowns and everyone in between for their royal presentation.
Here’s a glowing Yelp review of the Hair Store-
It’s a small shop in what looks like the family home. It has a front section with a wide variety of masks, once you step inside the store, you’ll see all your costuming needs from wigs to masks to costumes to make up. I came here specifically for the make up so that’s what I’ll write about the most.
I was helped by Lynn, one of three workers here, and she was absolutely amazing. She answered all my questions, trialled a few shades for me, and gave me a huge insight into the world of make up. I can’t thank her enough for her assistance with me today.
I ended up walking away with three Mehron foundation sticks, Mehron translucent setting powder, and a powder puff all for just over $40, a steal! I very much so recommend this place to anyone in the area who is after theatrical make up, wigs, masks, and costuming. You will not be disappointed!
New Orleanians are a very creative lot. Most us have a bag of two of Mardi Gras beads in the closet or attic. Once beads are exposed to the weather for a while, the paint wears off but the beads endure for a long time. Since Hurricane Katrina, the city has had FEMA money to fix a lot of major and minor city streams but so many more haven’t been fixed and are one of the banes of our existence in any older city in America. Combining beads and pot holes makes perfect sense to me. It’s a very quick and somewhat lasting solution.
Political Cartoon from al.com
2015 was my best Mardi Gras in five years. I saw more parades and had more fun. That’s due to better parade company. I’m a parade freak, and if I go to parades with like minded freaks, I’m apt to enjoy myself lots more. 3 years ago I was forced to change my long term parade freak partner and it took me a couple of years to get it right again.
Wednesday, February 12 when Druids and Nyx rolled, I paraded with a special friend of the opposite sex who I hadn’t paraded with before but she told me she was a parade freak. That turned out to be true and a surreal, delightful Mardi Gras parade night was had by both of us.
At Zulu I caught 4 coconuts and at REX, which had a different medallion for each float, I caught over half. I do fairly well at the parades although I’m rarely the target demographic because I costume a bit for all parades and I’m active on the parade route, that is I scream Happy Mardi Gras, Throw Me Something, and other similar exhortations. I had a ball at the parades on Fat Tuesday 2015. It was quite cold all day and windy, but the rain held off completely. I biked to Zulu and then biked to REX.
Surviving Fat Tuesday on Rouses’ Cheese Straws
My food situation was well in hand on Lundi Gras, but by Fat Tuesday, all my plans of a delicious spread had fallen apart. I had made a big pot of my special red beans in the crock pot, and bought a high grade of cold cuts, some mini pistolettes, good cheese and tomatoes to make some sandwiches to eat on the go. On my bike I couldn’t carry the container of beans, and I couldn’t find my cold cuts. So off I went on Mardi Gras Day on my bike with a package of Rouse’s cheese straws, some Pepperidge Farm Nantucket cookies, and two small packs of Cheetos. All day I snacked on the cheese straws, which were to die for- deep cheese flavor with just the right amount of heat and spice, plus some vodka and OJ and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Young Parade Goers Costume in Large Numbers
One of the most heartening trends this year was the preponderance of young parade goers who costumed in some respect for all the parades, not just Fat Tuesday. I took the St. Charles streetcar a lot in 2015 for Carnival and every time I got on there were lots and lots of young folks wearing a head piece, mask or other costume part. I realize part of my attraction to Mardi Gras is the make believe and fantasy aspects of the celebration, so I really found all this new costuming very attractive. You can dress up and become anyone or anything your mind and imagination can envision and create. The possibilities are endless.
Adult Dance Troupes Take Center Stage
More and more high flying adult dance troupes have joined in the parading fun. The Sirens, Muff-A-Lottas, 610 Stompers, Disco Amigos, Pussyfooters, Dames de Perlage, Try Athletes, Bearded Oyster Dance Troupe, Rolling Elvi, Organ Grinders, Roux La La, Amelia Earhawts, Kolossos, and the Star Wars themed 501st Legion were just some of the fab groups entertaining the crowd. I have a friend who texted me after a fun night of parading together that she found a Roux La La couzy in her bra when undressing that night. She said it was the perfect testament to a great evening. O.K., maybe she’s more than a friend.
Lighted beads were ubiquitous for the night parades. Proteus lit up the necklace part, not the medallion like everyone else. There were light up pitch forks, blades, styrofoam tubes, and just about anything else a light could be attached to.
Muses is well known throughout the Mardi Gras universe for their shoe throws. I received my most unusual Muses throw right from a float rider. It was a pack of rice beads with the plastic connectors, but it has a small metal Muses M attached with the ubiquitous bead/medallion metal connector. What kind of statement was Muses making with these retro beads?
Nyx has really come into their own. There were decorated purses coming off the floats in large numbers and many dancing troupes.
360 lenticular cups were thrown by D’Etat, Orpheus, Babylon and Iris. A lenticular lens is an array of magnifying lenses, designed so that when viewed from slightly different angles, different images are magnified.
Parade Route Parties
I attended a number of gatherings along parade routes off of St. Charles and Frenchmen Street. I had a lot of fun and laughs at each and every party. Walking back and forth between the house and the parade is the height parade enjoyment. Some soirees are invitation only, which a security guard checking online invites, but for many others, just showing up is enough to gain entrance. Often the food, booze and crowd is a step above the average New Orleans party- and New Orleans is well known for throwing world class parties.
Proteus in the Daytime!
Hell freezes over! Pigs fly! Since the start of time, or whenever Proteus began parading, whichever came first, Proteus parades at night. Flambeaux carriers only light parades after the sun goes down. Wrong! The start time for Proteus and Orpheus were moved up 75 minutes due to inclement weather considerations, so they rolled in plain, old daylight.
I love Mardi Gras flags, the big and the small, the still and the fluttering, the traditional and the trendy. Originally, only Carnival flags were from the oldest krewes, who put the year they were King or Queen on one corner. Everyone else had only one option basically- a generic purple green and gold flag.
Some flags are very exclusive, and can only be flown by the former/current Queens, or Kings and Queens. Others are more egalitarian, allowing all members to exhibit them.
When Cleopatra and Oshun kick off on Friday evening, we launch the 10 day sprint known as Carnival in New Orleans. Krewe population trends varied around the metropolitan area, an interesting pattern to say the least. Orleans Parish organizations are growing by leaps and bounds, while Jefferson Parish saw several krewes fade away. I really cannot explain this development. The suburbs have been growing for decades as the city lost population. So why did Thor, Zeus and Atlas, three old Jefferson krewes with 140 years of parading history, cease marching?
In the past 17 years, 25 Carnival clubs have quit. The trend precedes Hurricane Katrina. In spite of the Orleans Parish parade moratorium, the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale received permission to ride this year on February 8. They will parade after the three previously scheduled parades. In Jefferson, the Krewe of Athena Carnival Club received a parade permit to follow Excalibur tonight.
Parade goers will have to come up with a new plan if they set up shop on certain neutral grounds and city street intersections this year. The Army Corps of Engineers’ drainage projects along Napoleon and Jefferson Streets will mess up lots of Carnival plans. Fences on the neutral grounds along Napoleon will severely limit parade watching.
According to Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation, the 2015 season will be a busy one, with many area hotels already filled up between now and Fat Tuesday. However, the Quarter and downtown have suffered recently from bad publicity due to a rash of robberies and assaults.
Additional state troopers were deployed in the French Quarter in August after more negative publicity when a shooting on Bourbon killed one woman and injured several others. Those officers left the city after the 2015 Sugar Bowl was concluded even though the mayor asked Governor Bobby Jindal to extend their stay.
Now, State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson says he is working with New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu to extend their tenure. Plus, the tourism industry has ponied up $2.5 million to keep troopers here. That’s an impressive amount of money.
On a lighter note, the New Orleans Advocate is producing 14 full color Krewe Parade Bulletins for 2015. In 1886, the Krewe of Proteus became the first Carnival organization to present full color chromolithograph newspaper editions showing the float designs for it’s street pageant. Other krewes quickly followed suit, and these carnival editions or bulletins continued to be printed and sold on street corners for a dime until 1941.
This year, and this year only, Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day fall on the weekend before Fat Tuesday. Several krewes will indicate this event via their float designs and throws.
For most of the last 150 years, New Orleans official reviewing stand for Mardi Gras parades has been historic Gallier Hall. That changed when a large piece of the facade fell off the building last year, closing the building for 2015.
The 2015 version of Krewe du Vieux rolled throughout the Marigny, French Quarter, and Central Business District last evening before a large adult crowd, some small children, and a few kids who had no business attending. It was an all new route for the non-profit krewe dedicated to the historical and traditional concept of a Mardi Gras parade as a venue for individual creative expression and satirical comment.
Virtually all the music provided by the parade last night came from brass bands from around New Orleans.- Langiappe, Pinettes, Kinfolk, TBC, New Birth, Jazzmen, Bone Tone, Big Fun, One Love, Young Fellaz, Paulin Bros, Treme, Egg Yolk Jubilee, and Baby Boy. KdV is the top music parade in the city, and that’s no small statement. 20+ great brass bands truly enrich the parade going experience for both the participants and crowd. We march 3.8 miles across Marigny, the Quarter and the CBD, and every step of the way was a joy due to the continuous, non-amplified, mobile concert that accompanied each krewe.
The KdV pre-party was the food highlight of the evening. The abundant Popeyes’ fried chicken, red beans, po-boys, homemade cheesecakes, salads, and finger sandwiches went over very well. The best food I scarfed- marinaded filet mignon sandwich on biscuit with spring greens and goat cheese.
The temperature was in the mid 50s as the parade kicked off. The parade was the peak event of the evening. The brass band marching immediately in front of our mule was the Big Fun Brass Band. Behind me was Underwear stalwart Egg Yolk Jubilee. Both were extraordinary and added a lot of weight to the festivities. Since my position as Escort is next to the float, I mostly heard the band in front of me. After listening to and dancing to them for a couple of hours, I realized how much the band had improved my parade experience.
I have found that the amount of fun to be had being part of a parade is directly related to the amount of throws you have to throw during the parade. If you have enough throws so you can throw from beginning to end, you will have a superlative time. If you have less throws, you may not have as good a time.
Each sub-krewe that collectively make up KdV design their own hard biting, ribald float based on the mother krewe’s 2015 theme, KdV Begs For Change. This makes for well thought out, well constructed floats. I generally include a photo essay from KdV taken before the parade rolls, but after they have left the den and set up in pre-staging before moving to the start of the parade.