The 2013 Carnival season in New Orleans was one of the warmest on record, I didn’t wear a jacket until the last couple of days of the season. The Super Bowl interrupted Mardi Gras this year, so parades were held before and after the 9 day break.
Had a rather tough time at the parades this year, my large group of parade goers had winnowed down over time to just me and my beloved wife. Now that she’s gone, I saw the parades by myself. That’s not much fun, and it’s kind of sad.
I still enjoyed myself when the parades rolled. I’m such a huge Mardi Gras fan,I couldn’t help myself. I love the atmosphere, the bands, marching groups, floats, etc.
So we’ll start with the King of Carnival, REX. I dress in purple, green and gold most Mardi Gras, and this year I had a felt frog hat that added a bit of mirth to my serious costume.
REX is an old line krewe that is composed of 3 circles of membership. The inner ring is old blue blood types, and the King and Captain come from that group. The middle ring is new money types. They can become officers, but that’s it. The outside ring is composed of anyone, more or less. If you are successful in life and give something back to the community, there is a good chance REX may have a parade spot for you.
The first two rings of REX are very haughty on the parade route. They only throw to pretty girls and children. The last ring of REX throws to anyone. They are just happy to be riding with REX and give throws to the male sex even! Obviously, the sentiments laid out here are generalizations only.
REX looked grand, it’s the best looking daylight parade by far. The floats aren’t the huge ones that Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus use, as the float chassis are build on very old wagon bodies, with wooden wheels on the floats!! I don’t know who repairs the wheels, the last wheel wright died a while ago, and I lost touch with the process.
Zulu rolled right at 8 am on Jackson Avenue on a beautiful Mardi Gras day. Marlin Gusman was on horseback with a gaggle of sheriff’s deputies, Mayor Mitch Landrieu was also in the parade.
Zulu appreciates costuming, and if you have a funny aspect to your costume, that only helps. Zulu has some haughty riders, but most aren’t. When the double decker, double length floats arrived, they were handing out coconuts with a frenzy. I caught 5, gave away 2 on the spot, and one later. I don’t remember any double floats in the past handing down so many coconuts.
Zulu now color coordinates their coconut colors! If the riders wore orange gowns, their coconuts were painted the same color orange.
I had to leave Zulu at 9 am to go home to pick up the smart card for my camera, then off to REX. On the way I say a man and his son walking around near Zulu. They were having a tough time getting there, so I reached into my bag and gave them a nice Zulu coconut. You never saw such big smiles! I was happy to give them that coconut.
Proteus the night before was one gorgeous parade. They are a very old krewe, from the late 1800s. Proteus also uses wooden wagon chassis and wooden wheels from long ago.
Muses is the biggest all female Carnival krewe in existence. The crowds turn out for Muses, since their reputation for new, novel throws has grown large. Their most unique and rare throw, the Muses decorated shoe throw, is highly sought after. I didn’t get any shoes this year, but got lots of other unique throws, including a Muses magnetic shopping list with pad, special marker,and erasable writing surface; Muses collapsible drink flask with carabiner; Muses shoelaces in a cool plastic test tube; Muses flashlight that flashes the Muses symbol (as in Batman and the Bat signal commissioner Gordon uses to get Batman’s attention); a Muses reusable grocery shopping bag; and a Muses bead catching net. The net was a pain at the parade, all the folks who received them waved them in everyone’s faces while trying to catch throws.
I noticed for several years that Muses only throws stuff with their logo on it. That means the krewe must buy all their throws from the krewe. That’s a very expensive proposition. Most other krewes require their members to buy some throws with their logo on it, but allow the members to augment their krewe purchases with generic, cheaper throws. I bet the Muses dues is less than the cost of purchasing all those krewe throws. I really don’t think the average Muses krewe member cares. To belong to Muses, is well, one of the more divine and sublime experiences in the New Orleans Carnival world.
Krewe du Vieux rolled very early in the season, moved back a week by the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, the first parade of the season had rather warm weather this year, As readers of this blog know, I’m in KdV, and I’m very partial to it.
All the reasons- the historic parade route, the donkeys, the brass bands, and the outright over the top ribald floats- have been covered in this blog numerous times. Yes, I love my KdV!!
Roger Goodell, long time NFL Commissioner, made a statement alluding to the KdV float, the anti Goodell signage in stores,restaurants and bars all over town, and the voodoo dolls he’s been given. He claims none of that influenced his decision to lift Saints Coach Peyton’s suspension a couple of weeks early. We all know better!
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is under three weeks away! In the middle of all that, we are hosting the Super Bowl, featuring the Baltimore Ravens vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Mardi Gras will be taking a nine day vacation while we host Super Bowl XLVII in the venerable Super Dome!!
We are having an incredible month, with President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, MLK Day, plus the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras! Whew!! That’s a lot of huge events for any month in New Orleans. Of course, the President’s inauguration and MLK Day occur all over the USA, From New York to California and all points in between.
The 2013 Carnival season kicks off in high gear this weekend with lots of parades on the St. Charles Avenue route. Oshun, Cleopatra, Pontchartrain, Choctaw, Sparta, Pygmalion, Carrollton, and King Arthur all roll down the traditional route.
Can you guess how many parades from the list immediately above are older than 20 years old originated on St. Charles Avenue?
Uno Un One. Which one?
Sparta, which began in 1951. There are plenty of old neighborhood parades in that list. Can you guess them?
Cleopatra paraded for 39 years across the Mississippi River before changing to St. Charles for 2013.The New Orleans City Council voted on yesterday (January 24) allowing the ladies krewe from the west bank to move their parade to the traditional New Orleans uptown route. The Krewe of Cleopatra will kick off the Carnival Season on January 25, 2013, the first Friday of Mardi Gras.
Captain Dolores Kepner says,This is the perfect year for us to move our parade to the New Orleans uptown route. It opens up tremendous possibilities for the first weekend of Mardi Gras. We are honored to be a part of that.
Choctaw is parading down St. Charles for the first time in 2013, and has plans to return to their traditional parading grounds, the West Bank, in 2014. King Arthur (1977) also started on the West Bank. Pontchartrain began in the Lakeview area, marching on Hayne Boulevard by the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Carrollton first paraded in their namesake neighborhood. Oshun and Pygmalion started on St. Charles, but they are newer parades.
That leaves only the Knights of Sparta as an historic procession originating on St. Charles. The Knights of Sparta are often mis-named the Krewe of Sparta!
There are two non-conformist parades out in the Faubourg Marigny over this weekend- ‘tit Rәx, and Chewbacchus, and both roll Saturday in the Marigny. ‘Tit Rәx used to be named ‘tit Rex, until the King of Carnival, the Monarch of Merriment, sued tiny little ‘tit Rex for stealing their name! As can be seen from the photo below, ‘tit Rәx is a miniature hand made float procession, not a full sized parade like Rex. I don’t think Rex made the proper decision, but tit ‘Rәx’s solution to turn the ‘e’ in Rex into a ‘schwa’ which is what a ‘ә‘ is.
Chewbacchus is a science fiction kind of krewe which features costumes and hand pulled floats in the Star Wars tradition.
It’s Twelfth Night (Jan.6), the formal start of the 2013 Carnival Season! I hope that excites you, because it excites me! It is a short season this year, as Fat Tuesday is Feb.12. As of today, there are 37 days to Fat Tuesday!! Plus, the Super Bowl will be played in New Orleans on Feb.3. As I’ve written before, this means the parades will be split into two sections, with the nine day Super Bowl break occurring in the middle.
Twelfth Night is the start of the King Cake season, though the grocery stores put them out around New Years Day.
YUM!! There are a million varieties of King Cakes today, we live in the true renaissance era of King Cakes. Here’s a fancy King Cake recipe from star chef Emeril Lagasse. When I first moved to New Orleans in the mid 1970s, the only type of King Cake was plain ones. Then McKenzie’s Bakeries, a local chain, produced the first filled King Cakes. Now, you can find almost any flavor possible. McKenzie’s is long gone, but their unique innovation lives on and on!
As for the PPP, or Phunny Phorty Phellows, their ride down St. Charles Avenue on a St.Charles Avenue Street Car occurs tonight.
From the PPP website: The modern organization was revived in 1981 by a small group of friends and Mardi Gras enthusiasts. It has continued without interruption to the present day. The PPP paraded with the Krewe of Clones from 1981 until 1986. In 1982 we also began a tradition of riding the streetcar line (in a streetcar) and proclaiming the arrival of the Carnival season on Twelfth Night. That is the night when the new Boss and Queen are chosen by the traditional King Cake method as well as the occasion of the sumptuous Coronation Ball. A “Carnival Countdown” take place right before the Phellows board the streetcar.
The Storyville Stompers is the official band for the Streetcar Ride and Benny Grunch and the Bunch play at the Coronation Ball.
Other innovations and features: Beautiful invitations and dance cards like 1800s by a series of royal artists: Beth Kesmodel, Hal Pluche, Jeanne Woods, Arthur Nead, and Kevin Barre.
My own Krewe of Underwear, part of the historic Krewe du Vieux, roll January 19, which is very exciting and probably a very cold evening. I’ll have to bundle up big time before rolling. I love the brass bands, the donkeys, the heavy ribald satire, and the route- we roll through the French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny. There is no better place to be January 19 than at our parade or in it. Happy Mardi Gras to the World!!! Here’s our route-
Really looking forward to Carnival in New Orleans 2013. It’s the first one I’ve ever experienced without my wife by my side. We were both huge Mardi Gras fans. Fat Tuesday is February 12, which is rather early.
Ash Wednesday is always 46 days before Easter, and Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25, with the exact date to coincide with the first Sunday after the full moon following a spring equinox! If you’re still confused, get out that calendar with the printed holidays on it- it’s the day before Ash Wednesday!
Nevertheless, it’s 72 days to Fat Tuesday, so here we go!! I’m very excited about my own krewe, KdV, or Krewe du Vieux. I’m in the Krewe of Underwear, and we march January 19, 2013!! Most years when we march it’s quite cold, but a couple of years recently, it’s been really warm. We are the only krewe to march in the historic French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, all our floats are pulled by mules, and only brass bands provide the parade music, with a brass band between each float. KdV is an adult only parade, since we feature very ribald floats. The satire isn’t what the problem is, it’s the vulgarity factor.
The Super Bowl is being played in New Orleans this year, and the game is right during the parade season. Some parades have been moved to the first half of the season. The season is split!!
May march with the Society of Saint Anne in the Marigny. Never have, but I need to change my routine, as my long time partner is not with me.