Carnival New Orleans

1979 Mardi Gras Revisited – New Orleans Police Strike!!

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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.

Aaron Neville with Wild Tchoupitoulas, 1979

Aaron Neville with Wild Tchoupitoulas, 1979

Charles Neville Blowing His Horn, 1979

Charles Neville Blowing His Horn, 1979

 

Chief Jolly of Wild Tchoupitoulas Indians (blurry photo)

Chief Jolly of Wild Tchoupitoulas Indians (blurry photo)

 

 

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.

David & Meg 2009 MG Day

David & Meg 2009 MG Day

We always bring a king cake, that’s positively necessary.

Delicious, Super Sugary King Cake

Delicious, Super Sugary King Cake

 

 

 

Budweiser Clydesdales 2013 Mardi Gras Schedule!!

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Budweiser Clydesdales

Budweiser Clydesdales

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.

Clydesdales at pasteur

Clydesdales at Pasture

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

Clydesdales Line Up

Clydesdales Line Up

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.

 

 

Little Known Mardi Gras Facts!!

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1. Floats mounted on St. Charles Avenue streetcars? The 1900 Nereus parade tried the idea, but the experience was deemed a failure and the club gave up parading soon after. They still hold a yearly ball, however. The Phunny Phorty Phellows decorate a streetcar for their Twelfth Night ride each year, but they don’t decorate the car exterior much, and they don’t mount a float onto a streetcar.

Phunny Phorty Phellows in Action on Twelfth Night!!

Phunny Phorty Phellows in Action on Twelfth Night!!

2. Many krewes rent their floats, signing three to five year contacts with the float builder.

3. Not all doubloons are made from aluminum. Many krewes mint fancier ones out of more expensive metals -silver, gold, copper, brass, etc.- that are sometimes designed and painted in Europe. These doubloons are kept by the krewe members or given as krewe favors or gifts.

4. Early New Orleans parades (1860s) were built partially in Paris and finished in New Orleans. The first parade constructed entirely in New Orleans was Comus 1873, entitled Missing Links to Darwin’s Origin of the Species, built by George Soulé. The Missing Links parade was an important event in New Orleans’ Mardi Gras history, becoming one of the first major parades to use satire and political commentary. Many of the images depict figures related to the Civil War and Reconstruction, such as Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Butler, and Louisiana Governor Henry Warmoth. Also depicted are notable figures such as Charles Darwin, and Algernon Badger (head of the despised Metropolitan Police).

1873 Comus Parade - Missing Links

1873 Comus Parade – Missing Links

5. The first recorded throw was in 1871; a Twelfth Night Reveler, masked as Santa Claus, tossed small gifts to the parade crowd.

6. How much of a king is Rex, King of Carnival? In 1950, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor attended the Rex ball and found themselves face to face to face with the pretend only royalty, the King and Queen of Rex. Guess which couple did the bowing? The gracious Windsors!

7. How is the date for Mardi Gras determined? This year, the date is February 12, but any Tuesday from February 3 to March 9 could be the one. The rule is: Mardi Gras is always 46 days before Easter, which is always the first Sunday after the full moon following the Spring Equinox. When is the Spring Equinox? It’s the day when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator, making day and night all over the earth the same length. Since this date shifts, Easter changes, which is why the date of Mardi Gras is moveable.

8. 1899 was the year of the Big Snow. There were big chunks of ice in the Mississippi River during the final weekend before Fat Tuesday.

Amazing Capes Comes to the Mardi Gras!!

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Purple Reversible Amazing Cape

Purple Reversible Amazing Cape

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).

Me on Fat Tuesday on St.Charles Avenue

Me on Fat Tuesday on St. Charles Avenue

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.

Lynn Drury b&w

Lynn Drury b&w

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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Day Sprint to Mardi Gras Day!!

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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!!

Ravens vs 49ers Super Bowl XLVII New Orleans

Ravens vs 49ers Super Bowl XLVII New Orleans

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!

Misspelled  Sparta Sign

Misspelled Sparta Sign

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.

Tit Rәx Parade Float

Tit Rәx Parade Float

Chewbacchus is a science fiction kind of krewe which features costumes and hand pulled floats in the Star Wars tradition.

Twilek and Ultraman1 of Chewbacchus

Twilek and Ultraman1 of Chewbacchus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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