68 degrees and sunny is the forecast for my parade, the ultra cool, edgy, historical KdV. My costume is taking shape very nicely, my throws are novel for me, and I’ve reviewed all rules and regulations I’m supposed to know as a Krewe of Underwear Escort. The parade rolls through the French Quarter and Marigny at 6 pm. KdV’s theme this year is Where the Vile Things Are. Our king is wetlands restoration advocate and historian John Barry.
Check out my story on Ray Nagin’s federal corruption trial, now with the jury, here.
A bit more about my main costume. I have a furry purple and green animal jumpsuit/costume. Over that I have neon green pimp’s jacket. I have a long purple, green and gold silk scarf with a pansy design, plus a purple sheer scarf with shiny gold mini dots throughout. I’m going to cross the scarfs around my neck and down my back in a cape-like way, and secure the crossing with a Carnival colored crown pin. I have some old KdV and MOMs Ball buttons to wear on my jacket. I still need a hat and mask, but I’m going to the Costume Bazaar on Feb. 16 at the Healing Center, 2572 St. Claude Avenue.
The tune is by June Victory and the Bayou Renegades, Don’t Rock the Bow, from their release, June Victory and the Bayou Renegades.
Krewedelusion follows KdV. They have a New Orleans celebrity for their 2014 Ruler, DJ Soul Sister, aka Melissa Weber! This is a good way for a krewe to garner some free media. The Nola Defender broke the story. Queen Melissa “DJ Soul Sister” Weber is inheriting the throne from Cheeky Black, last year’s Queen. The Soul Sister is the R&B bomb! Her DJ sets are considerably hotter than many live music sets that occur before and after her set.
We are honored, announced Captain Oscar Diggs in a release, that New Orleans native and internationally renowned superstar disc jockey Melissa Weber shall be our next Ruler and shall be crowned Soul Sister #1 and Captain of New Orleans.
I’m such a huge Mardi Gras fan, I love those purple, green and gold Carnival colors. Except for a couple of exceptions, I always costume in those colors. I cannot help it- they are the only ones that will make me happy when I costume, I admit. I’ve got a super, special, all new for me costume for KdV and Fat Tuesday.
Last year, Carnival wasn’t the same to me, the first since my wife passed. This year, I feel my old Carnival mania and deep seated love returning. It feels great. I live a scant 2 blocks from St. Charles, and 1 block from Napoleon. That’s parade central! I think I’ll have a crock pot of gumbo ready all parade season. Maybe set the record for gumbo serving over 10 days.
Mardi Gras the last two years has sucked for me. A major personal tragedy occurred in my life and it took a couple of years to come back. This year I’m living very very close to the main parade route. That should make for one big Carnival party at my place. I expect the 2014 Carnival season to be a fabulous one.
Mardi Gras is March 4th this year, and since Twelfth Night is a fixed date, January 6, the Carnival season is long. The season can be long or short or somewhere in between. The first parade in Orleans Parish annually is KdV (February 15), and I roll with them. Hurray!! Yeah!! Fun time!!
We roll in the French Quarter and Marigny, and our floats are pulled by mules, as they were a hundred years ago. We’re the only major Orleans Parish parade in those historic neighborhoods. Our floats are handmade by each sub krewe and far smaller than regular floats. The main krewe and the sub krewes make and throw their own buttons, with the central parade theme and the sub krewe’s theme on them.
The true strength and power of KdV can be plainly seen in our unbelievable list of brass bands. I’m in the music business and I cannot fathom this amount of brass muscle!
2014 KdV Brass Bands
Baby Boyz Brass Band
Stooges Brass Band
Treme Brass Band
Egg Yolk Jubilee
Hot Eight Brass band
Down and Dirty
Gretna and the North Shore continue to struggle with krewe membership problems. The leading factor is financial difficulties. For 2014, the North Shore will have only a single parade, the krewe of Eve. Eve’s membership is down from 570 to 300. That’s a drop of almost 50%, but the krewe is still large enough to support the parade. Mandeville’s Krewe of Orpheus didn’t parade last year and didn’t file to parade in 2014. The Captain said the membership had declined. This hardly constitutes a parade season on the North Shore.
On the bright side, Slidell’s Krewe of Claude failed to parade in 2013 but will be rolling for 2014. In fact, Slidell lost no parades from last year even though several krewes reported financial and membership difficulties, an excellent record considering what occurring in Jefferson and the North Shore. Last fall, the Slidell City Council passed new Mardi Gras regulations that raised fees for parades, instituted a minimum number of floats and riders per float for a parade.
Gretna lost Grela founded in 1947. That’s a major blow. Metairie lost Thor. That’s big also, 2014 is the 40th anniversary for Thor. Alla, a West Bank stalwart for decades, now rolls down St. Charles Avenue. It is painfully obvious that Carnival in Jefferson Parish is suffering right now.
The New Orleans City Council made sure they would originate many of the Orleans Parish Mardi Gras changes this year with a new group of rules and regulations concerning Carnival. You can read about the bill here.
The first parades down St. Charles in 2014 roll on Friday, February 21. Orleans Parish gets two days off this year, February 25 and 26 (Monday/Tuesday). I’m looking for a warm Mardi Gras, almost all Fat Tuesdays that fall in March are warm. It’s been a very cold winter so far in New Orleans, so we’ll have to see.
I love all Mardi Gras parades, and always have. Any krewe that can jump through all the hoops necessary to put on a real parade has my undying respect. It never was easy and now it’s very daunting. Parades and insurance costs go up and up. Krewes must have a minimum number of floats and bands now.
Nevertheless, I have my favorites and this forecast will highlight those. I look forward to my own parade, Krewe du Vieux, of course. It’s a lot of fun. The first weekend of parades, I prefer Sparta, Chewbaccus and Alla. Then Babylon, Muses, d’Etat, Tucks, Endymion, Mid City, Thoth, Bacchus, Proteus, Orpheus, Zulu and Rex. I love the truck parades down St. Charles.
The Krewe of Freret is back for 2014 after being gone for 2 decades! I’ve watched Freret when it rolled down Freret St. When I lived on Robert Street for a decade the Freret procession was my neighborhood parade.
The green movement has met Mardi Gras, and it’s resonating with the holiday. Most people realize that beads come from oil and from China and are one big waste of resources. They don’t compost very well either. Many organizations like ARC recycle beads and groups like verdigras.com strive to recycle, reduce and reuse.
Bring your Mardi Gras Beads to one of these following Arc locations:
925 S. Labarre Rd., Metairie
5700 Loyola Avenue, New Orleans
333 Sala Avenue, Westwego
3406 Hessmer Avenue, Metairie
Pontchartrain Center, Kenner
Neurological Rehabilitation Center, Covington
Whole Food Locations (Magazine & Veterans)
Mardi Gras World
Children’s Room, Main Library
Children’s Resource Center
Martin Luther King Branch
Forward leaning krewes like Krewe du Vieux and Chewbaccus make many of their throws by hand and use recycled materials in their throws.
This was a Mardi Gras to remember. The police strike (NOPD) cancelled the parades in Orleans Parish, but Jefferson and St. Bernard Parishes held all their parades. Much of organized Carnival was canceled in New Orleans, but all of the less organized groups came out as usual.
On Fat Tuesday morning we went to the west bank for Grela and the trucks, then headed back over the Mississippi River bridge to find the Wild Tchoupitoulas Indians. We found them, with Chief Jolly, Charles Neville on sax, and Aaron Neville smoking a joint with our little group! We really enjoyed our time with 2nd Chief Norman Bell, Chief Jolly (George Landry), Aaron and Charles Neville, and other Indians and musicians.
We were living on Robert Street off of Danneel St, so we were very close to where the Nevilles all lived back then, on Valence Street. This was right before the Nevilles became major label fodder and began to travel the world in earnest as the pride of New Orleans, the Neville Brothers.
We hung out and followed the Wild Tchoupitoulas for a couple of hours before heading the the French Quarter and a party on Royal Street. These uptown Mardi Gras Indians were followed by a crowd of about 20 people. It was really an enjoyable aspect of Fat Tuesday that year.
Since that time, we’ve gotten into a bit of a fun rut on Fat Tuesday. We set up on St. Charles for Rex and the Trucks, and catch some of Zulu on Jackson Avenue before. There is so much to do and see at the New Orleans Carnival you can hardly go wrong, as long as you travel in a small group for safety reasons. We always bring a number of really excellent foods and drinks for Fat Tuesday. We BBQ, bring hot gumbos, sushi, traditional desserts like king cakes, mandel brot, decadent chocolate cakes, chocolate babka, etc. Not all of that each year, but I always make a half dozen Po-boys in advance for guests and friends who show up during the number of hours we’re on St. Charles enjoying the parades and trucks.
We always bring a king cake, that’s positively necessary.
Our New Orleans City Council is considering a parade proposal that would let the crowd throw back beads at specially designed bead recycling floats. This is an excellent idea whose time has certainly come. I saw such a float at the end of some parades in 2012.
There’s a very cool documentary about where our beloved Mardi Gras beads come from. Mardi Gras: Made in China is all about our beads and the China connection. Here’s a clip from youtube.com.
That’s a lot of wasted beads! Even though there’s been a law on the books banning parade goers from throwing beads at floats, that hasn’t stopped anyone, when the right float goes by. Bacchus’ Kong series of floats are all targets of beads.Tucks’ toilet float is another serious target.
Councilwoman Susan Guidry, a big recycling champion, is behind this effort. The council could pass the ordinance very quickly in time for the Carnival 2013, or let it sit until 2014.
Verdigras.org is a new Mardi Gras green effort. From their web site-
an amalgam of ages, races, sexes,
and families speaking a common
Mardi Gras is about the show,
not the throw, the community
joie de vivre.
conservation of our resources
–Inspiring others and ourselves in
creating and supporting a greener,
cleaner Mardi Gras for all – with a
spirit of creativity and fun, and
–Reducing our dependence on foreign
throws and throws in general.
I’m in love with my krewe! It’s weird I know, but I know why I love participating in the fabulous, historic Krewe du Vieux. I love the walk through the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. I adore the donkeys who lead our homemade, highly professional floats. Every float has a New Orleans brass band leading it.The Hot 8 Brass Band was in front of us and for the entire parade they positively lit the street on fire with their incredible 2nd line sound.
What I am attracted to more than any other factor when I parade with my Krewe of Underwear is what happens as I pass the crowd that has gathered to watch the parade. Each person I pass has their eyes on me and wants one of my throws. What happens next is amazing. I gain a tiny amount of energy from that encounter, which occurs time and time again as I pass the crowd and connect with them. The crowd doesn’t feel the loss of energy that I gain over and over and over again. When the parade ends I have a very rare feeling of elation that lasts for a couple of days. Then it fades and I’m back to myself.
The feeling is similar to what a musician feels when he is on stage performing. When he/she connects with the audience, they gain the same bit of energy from throughout the crowd over and over. It’s a fabulous, rare experience that helps keep the Mardi Gras floats full of rider decade after decade.
I’m an Escort for the krewe, which is the perfect role for me. I stay sober for the pre party and parade, and I may have a drink or two at the post parade. This allows me to walk with my float, making sure that no ‘incidents’ occur to our krewe, donkey, band and the crowd. No one is allowed to ‘join’ our krewe for more than a minute or two. No messing with our donkey, and if there is an accident or incident, use your whistle to call for help! I also keep our float where it belongs in the parade, and don’t allow the float to speed up or slow down too much.