Carnival New Orleans
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.
Here come the most incredible draft horses in the world, the fabulous Budweiser Clydesdales hitch, six huge Clydesdales at a time, pulling an old time beer distributors truck on St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street.
The Clydesdale is a breed of draught horse derived from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland, and named after that region. Although originally one of the smaller breeds of draught horses, it is now a tall breed. Often bay in colour, they show significant white markings due to the presence of sabino genetics. The breed was originally used for agriculture and haulage, and is still used for draught purposes today. The Budweiser Clydesdales are some of the most famous Clydesdales, and other famous members of the breed are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry. They have also been used to create and improve other draught breeds.
01/26: Krewe of Pontchartrain – Drive New Orleans, LA
01/27: Krewe of Alla – Drive New Orleans, LA
01/29: Mardi Gras-Single Horse – Drive New Orleans, LA
01/30: Mardi Gras-Single Horse – Drive New Orleans, LA
02/01: Krewe of Metairie – New Orleans, LA
02/02: Krewe of Olympia – New Orleans, LA
02/06-01/07: Mardi Gras-Single Horse – New Orleans, LA
02/08: Krewe of d’Etat – New Orleans, LA
02/09: Krewe of Endymion – New Orleans, LA
02/10: Krewe of Bacchus – New Orleans, LA
02/12: Krewe of Argus – New Orleans, LA
The breed was developed from Flemish stallions imported to Scotland and crossed with local mares. The first recorded use of the name “Clydesdale” for the breed was in 1826, and by 1830 a system of hiring stallions had begun that resulted in the spread of Clydesdale horses throughout Scotland and into northern England. The first breed registry was formed in 1877. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Clydesdales were exported from Scotland and sent throughout the world, including to Australia and New Zealand, where they became known as “the breed that built Australia”. However, during World War I population numbers began to decline due to increasing mechanization and war conscription. This decline continued, and by the 1970s, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered the breed vulnerable to extinction. Population numbers have increased slightly in the intervening time, but they are still thought to be vulnerable.
I generally dress in the colors of purple, green and gold for Fat Tuesday. I’ve always identified with Mardi Gras, and dressing in those colors seemed like the right thing to do. Below is a picture of me on Fat Tuesday in my purple, green and gold costume. You can tell by the squinting of my eyes that I’m smiling broadly.
I was hanging out on kickstarter.com, as I was mulling over ideas to try out there. I notice an Amazing Capes project, and I took a look (to try your own project on kickstarter, it helps to donate to a few projects first).
So for $35 I became a kickstarter backer of the Amazing Capes project, and for that money I was promised an Amazing Capes for my backing. I asked for a purple, green and gold cape, but was told that the initial production line only included a set number of designs, and the purple cape edged in gold (named Noble Rainbow) with a multicolor striped reverse was the closest one. Since one side was a correct color of Carnival, I felt the cape would work well with the rest of my costume, and I was told as late as yesterday that cape would be shipped on February 4. As Fat Tuesday is February12, I am sitting pretty with my new cape arriving in time for the big day.
Kickstarter is an amazing online beast with a crowdfunding model that works for many and fails for many more. If you ask for $1,000 and you raise $999 in the prescribed period, you don’t get the money and you have to return it all to the backers.
Indy musician Amanda Palmer asked for $100,000 for new concept album, and raised $1.2 million.
I helped a local roots rocker, Lynn Drury, fund her West Coast/Canada tour via kickstarter. My $25 got me an autographed copy of her latest CD. She asked for $3,500 and received $3,615. Half her money came in during the last 48 hours. She made her goal and made her tour. The tour was booked, she needed food, hotel and gas money for the trip.
Though lots of folks mask during the Carnival season, more don’t. One thing about masking; the minute the mask comes on and you go outside, your identity is hidden. As people who know you approach you, they won’t know you with the mask on.
During Carnival, to mask, is an exhilarating experience, and it’s liberating also. It’s liberating because you are not recognized for yourself, and it’s exhilarating because it frees you up to act differently while the mask hides your identity.
I remember when I was in my twenty’s, I hated for Carnival to come to an end. I never told anyone of this feeling, since I didn’t want to appear crazy! Fortunately, as I got older, this feeling lessened, and now it’s gone completely.
My advice to all those who attend any Carnival event around the globe, in New Orleans, Galveston, Cannes, Viareggio, Mobile, etc., is to MASK!!!
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-
This is a very good thing, after a wild year when the Gretna City Council backed the wrong horse (Gretna Fest) instead of their own historic parade. Now, all is forgiven, and the Krewe of Grela, after a year of sitting on the sidelines, will be returning to the streets of Gretna with 22 floats and 10 truck floats for a total of 700+ riders.
Jefferson Parish’s oldest Carnival organization, the krewe was founded in 1947 as a men’s club, but it changed its name to Grela, an acronym for Gretna, La.
Grela missed the 2012 season, the first time in decades that city didn’t have a single parade. Once the parade was gone, the city elders realized that losing the only parade on Fat Tuesday wasn’t in the best interests of Gretna.
It fact, it is a big quality of life issue, and the Gretna City Council passed a new ordinance that allows barbecuing, tents, etc. along the parade for the first time in years.
Mardi Gras backer and council member Belinda Constant allocated $40,000 from her discretionary fund to aid Grela, stating that the parade isn’t just a single event, but a quality parade enhances the stature of the city.
From my vantage point, it’s an economic development issue as well. When folks tailgate in earnest for Mardi Gras day events they purchase beer, grilling materials, meal fixings souvenirs from the parade vendors, etc. I’m very glad the Gretna council came to their senses over this issue. Gretna historically has had a nice Fat Tuesday parade, and I’m glad it’s back!
The krewe says they have the support of the other krewes and have arranged for the necessary floats. The Captain says the New Orleans Police Department never responded officially to the krewe’s application.
An adviser to our fine mayor, Mitch Landrieu,said the application ”fell through the cracks.” Apparently the police thought the application was for 2014, even though their enclosed check was for 2013.
The original Krewe of Freret started in 1953. I remember watching them on Freret St in the 1970s and 80s. In 1995, the krewe was in financial difficulties and stopped parading.
The new krewe says they will hold their ball and coronation. I’m pleased they are staying active with the plan to return to a parading krewe in 2014. The krewe’s web site says- WELCOME TO THE KREWE OF FRERET – WE CANNOT BE STOPPED!
In late 2011, seven young Loyola graduates lamented the notion of squandering hard earned money to join a formal Krewe where they knew virtually no one and would have limited input. So rather than joining an existing Krewe, they sought to enhance Mardi Gras by creating a world class parade.
Those simple three words that utter so softly off of your lips, “Krewe of Freret”, drive Tulane and Loyola alumni to come together for the greater good of Carnival. Whereas the word ‘Freret’ was previously a division line between two campuses, the Krewe of Freret aims to unify these enthusiastic young professionals and infuse new vigor into Mardi Gras while simultaneously fanning the revitalization of the Freret corridor and her traditions.
The Krewe has received incredible support from the community, with many Freret Street business owners counted as Krewe of Freret members.
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.
Lots of news to report, none of it huge, so I’m compiling it into one feature. Of course, the Super Bowl returns to New Orleans in the middle of the Carnival season, so the parades in Orleans parish are split up.
I’ve covered Slidell parades before, as the first couple of entries are about North Shore parades.
1. The Krewe of Claude, a parading krewe with 24 parades under its belt, has called it quits for 2013. No Slidell parade and no ball. Apparently membership had fallen to a point that neither event was possible. They promise to return for 2014, as they plan to pursue new members sooner rather than later. Last year the parade had around 12 floats and close to 200 members. In my crazier, wilder, younger Mardi Gras days, I used to take the family and guests to attend Claude, which runs very early in the season. We had a blast in those days, running to parades in Slidell.
2. For the past 25 years, the Original Krewe of Orpheus has rolled down the streets of Mandeville, throwing their signature pine cones. Unfortunately for Mardi Gras fans in Mandeville, the parade has been cancelled for 2013, according to Krewe Captain Brett Lowe,
Last week, the Krewe of Lyra announced they will not parade in Mandeville, but have moved its parade to follow the traditional parades in Covington Mardi Gras Day, the Mystic Krewe of Covington and the Lion’s Club.
However, Orpheus has no plans of moving. According to Lowe, “The Original Krewe of Orpheus will stick to Mandeville.”
In connection with the decision, Lowe issued a press release that stated, “On behalf of Board of Directors, it is with major disappointment that we must inform everyone of our decision not to ride on Feb. 8, 2013. We have experienced financial difficulties through a decline in membership over the past few years, which dictates our abilities to produce a quality parade that we are proud of. We are re-organizing and will ride in 2014.
Hoping to boost membership, the krewe will host a “rebirth party” on its previously scheduled parade night, Feb. 8, 2013. For more information, interested parties can email Lowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mandeville all-women’s Krewe of Eve had extend an opportunity to Orpheus to parade behind their krewe on Feb. 1, but Lowe said that was not the route Orpheus wished to take. He thanked them for their offer.
“It was given in the true spirit of Mardi Gras, and we appreciate their kindness, and commitment to the community,” he said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Lowe stated the organization will continue to be a men’s krewe, and the re-organization party will replace the krewe’s annual ball Feb. 8, with women included as they would be at the ball. There will be a slight charge and interested parties should contact the krewe.
Regulations in the city of Mandeville requiring a minimum number of 150 riders paid a “slight part” in the group’s decision not to ride, according to Lowe. As with most parades throughout the area, a permit and insurance is also required.
The Original Krewe of Orpheus was founded in April 1987, a year after the Krewe of Eve had successfully made its debut. Its first parade was in 1988 with 13 floats plus local and regional marching bands. Its signature throw, the pineloon, was originally a pine cone covered in glitter, sitting atop a doubloon base. More recently, it was a plastic pine cone necklace.
Ironically, this past year was the 25th anniversary year with the theme “Orpheus’ Silver Lining.”
3. Orleans Parish’s Krewe of Orpheus announced 2013 plans- Leading the festivities and parade with Harry Connick, Jr. are other celebrity monarchs including star of the CBS hit show CSI New York, Gary Sinise; Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; Animal Planet’s Tillman the skateboarding bulldog; and returning monarchs, Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay, and the Imagination Movers.
4. Harry’s got a new Mardi Gras album named Mardi Gras in New Orleans. That’s an original title if I’ve every heard of one!!
5. My own Krewe du Vieux is building their floats, my own Krewe of Underwear’s float is taking shape beautifully, can’t show any photos yet. We roll January 19, 2013!!