Krewe of Muses
I have been reading other lists of Mardi Gras parade rankings and not agreeing with the ratings. Granted, my opinions are as subjective as the next persons. I count factors like which krewes’ reputations are growing in the public eye.
Tie, 1 & 2- Krewe du Vieux and Muses. KdV is a very large grass roots affair that follows historic tradition seriously, allowing them to roll in the French Quarter and Marigny. Their floats are pulled by mules; they are smaller than regular parade floats. They throw buttons, wooden doubloons, and other original throws. They only hire local brass bands who play more than other marching bands and play far funkier music. KdV’s floats skewer the worst of New Orleans.
Muses also has many ideas of their own and the public adores them. Their reputation has come on like gangbusters over the last decade. They invented the first icon, all original throw that has caught the public’s imagination since the Zulu coconut, the decorated ladies shoe. Every year they come up with novel throws. They have cornered the market and raised the bar substantially on dancing groups such as Rolling Elvi, Glambeaux, 610 Stompers. Pussyfooters, etc. They are a large organization like KdV who take their parade and their party very seriously. Muses has opened the door for women who want to be part of a modern, cool, and fun parading krewe experience.
3. REX There is only one REX, King of Carnival. It’s true. Founded in 1872, they are responsible for purple, green and gold being the official colors of Mardi Gras. They roll in very old wooden wagon chassis with wooden wheels from the 1800s. REX marches at 10 am Fat Tuesday, and the bright light that time of day illuminates the floats’ gold foil so beautifully.
On Mardi Gras Day, REX is truly King of New Orleans, as the mayor hands over the keys to the city to the reigning monarch.
Their signature floats- the King’s Jester, Boeuf Gras (Fatted Cow), Streetcar Named Desire and His Majesty’s Royal Calliope are well known throughout the land. REX had one of the first charity aspects to their krewe and it remains strong in the new millennium.
Gods of All the Ages is this year’s REX theme, the topic reflects gods and goddesses from antiquity. REX works hard at developing an original theme and displaying it brilliantly on its floats.
4. Proteus- The bands aren’t that great, and the riders are haughty, but the floats are so damned gorgeous and the traditional flambeaux kick butt all season. Now that Momus and Comus are no more, the only night time parade from the 1800s is Proteus. The float riders always keep their masks on and wear beautiful costumes.
Proteus, like REX, utilize wooden wagon chassis and wooden wheels. This limits the size of the floats since the smaller wooden chassis cannot support larger float structures.
There are no better floats in all of Carnival. This 2010 Proteus float is my favorite float out of so many other favorites.
5. Zulu- Zulu is a one of a kind parade, as all of my top 5 parades are. Zulu has the original icon Mardi Gras parade throw- the Zulu coconut! There is nothing like it anywhere else in Carnival. Zulu has great bands, great throws, and they are the only major parade except for Endymion that doesn’t march down St. Charles Avenue.
Zulu has unique officers, such as their Witch Doctor, Big Shot, Ambassador, Mr. Big Stuff, Mayor, Governor, and Province Prince.
6. Bacchus- The original super krewe, with a lot of signature floats the public loves such as the Bacchagator, Bacchasaurus, and Baccha-Whoppa. Their King Kong, Mama Kong and Baby Kong floats are perennial favorites.
Bacchus, the Greek god of wine, has been portrayed by celebrities including Raymond Burr, Bob Hope, Dom DeLuise, Charlton Heston, William Shatner and Kirk Douglas, and Dick Clark. Bacchus was the first parade to feature a Hollywood celebrity as ruler.
In 2014, the Krewe of Bacchus will be lead by celebrity ruler Hugh Laurie of the television show House.
7. Le Krewe d’Etat- d’Etat has style, earning this relatively high ranking. All floats are original, they call their king The Dictator, and they have manufactured their own style of flambeaux which work and keep their carriers safe.
The Dictator’s “court” includes the Kingfish, the Special Man, the Minister of Misinformation, the Keeper of the Bones and the High Priest. d’Etat’s motto is Vivite ut Vehatis. Vehite ut Vevatis, which roughly translates to Live to Ride, Ride to Live.
The Krewe decides a new theme for their parade annually (raison d’etre), and it, just like The Dictator’s identity, remains confidential. Like many other parades, d’Etat’s floats are highly satirical.
8. Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus- This description is from Wikipedia. The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is made up of over 500 dues-paying members who call themselves BacchanALIENs. The group was founded by self-styled publicity stuntman and conceptual artist Ryan S Ballard and curator/events director Kirah Haubrich in the fall of 2010. They were soon joined by local attorney Brett Powers and together they comprise the three Overlords of the Krewe. Their signature parade contraption and mascot is a 7-foot tall Bar2D2 that dispenses alcoholic beverages pulled by a XXX-Wing tricycle.
Throws are homemade and include bean bags, custom beads, flying discs, stuffed animals and decorated bandoliers. New for 2014- 100 rolling Elliots on bicycles in red hoodies with E.T.s in their bike baskets. Chewbacchus is the first truly science fiction Mardi Gras parade.
9. Chaos- Momus and Comus stopped parading, and a few years later, Chaos appears. There is a strong connection. Apparently the younger members of the two krewes weren’t OK with the decision to stop parading, so they formed Chaos. The floats are satirical, like d’Etat, Tucks and like Momus used to be.
The floats are old fashioned and smaller than the usual floats and super floats. Like Proteus, they use the old wooden wagon chassis and wooden wheels, and they employ the historic flambeaux, a beautiful sight.
10. Tucks- Any krewe that throws plungers, rolls of toilet paper and little plastic toilets that pee water is going to make my top 10 parade list. The Orleans Parish City Council this year gave some discussion to banning the toilet paper. The public outcry ended that crazy thought. Tucks has a really meaningful logo. No Latin for them, how about Booze, Beer, Bourbon, Broads? Tucks has an a very irreverent attitude!
Back in the day, I used to have my own float in Tucks. I’d pay the krewe a cash payment, and they would let me bring my decorated stake bed truck into the parade. That doesn’t happen anymore, parades regulations are very strict about extra vehicles entering the parade.
Tuck’s Toilet Bowl Float is one of a kind.
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.
CARNIVAL 2014 Parades
Feb. 15. Krewe of Bilge. Slidell.
Feb. 15. Krewe of Mona Lisa and MoonPie. Slidell.
Feb. 15. Krewe du Vieux. French Quarter/Marigny, New Orleans.
Feb. 15. Krewe Delusion. French Quarter, New Orleans.
Feb. 16. Krewe of Perseus. Slidell.
Feb. 16. Krewe of Little Rascals. Metairie.
Feb. 21. Krewe of Cork. French Quarter, New Orleans.
Feb. 21. Krewe of Oshun. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 21. Krewe of Cleopatra. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 21. Krewe of Excalibur. Metairie.
Feb. 21. Krewe of Eve. Mandeville.
Feb. 21. Krewe of Atlas. Metairie.
Feb. 22. The Mystic Knights of Adonis. West Bank.
Feb. 22. Knights of Nemesis. Chalmette.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Pontchartrain. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Pontchartrain. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Choctaw. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Freret. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 22. Knights of Sparta. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Caesar. Metairie.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Olympia. Covington.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Titans. Slidell.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Pygmalion. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 22. Krewe of Chewbacchus. Marigny, New Orleans.
Feb. 23. Krewe of Dionysus. Slidell
Feb. 23. Krewe of Carrollton. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 23. Krewe of King Arthur and Merlin. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 23. Krewe of Alla. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 23. Krewe of Tchefuncte. Madisonville.
Feb. 23. Krewe of Barkus. French Quarter, New Orleans.
Feb. 26. Krewe of Ancient Druids. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 26. Krewe of Nyx. Uptown, New Orleans
Feb. 27. Knights of Babylon. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 27. Krewe of Muses. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 27. Knights of Chaos. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 28. Krewe of Hermes. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 28. Krewe d’Etat. Uptown, New Orleans.
Feb. 28. Krewe of Selene. Slidell.
Feb. 28. Krewe of Centurions. Metairie.
Feb. 28. Krewe of Lyra. Covington.
Feb. 28. Krewe of Morpheus. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 1. Krewe of NOMTOC. West Bank, New Orleans.
March 1. Krewe of Iris. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 1. Krewe of Tucks. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 1. Krewe of Endymion. Mid-City, New Orleans.
March 1. Krewe of Isis. Metairie.
March 2. Krewe of Okeanos. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 2. Krewe of Mid-City. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 2. Krewe of Thoth. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 2. Krewe of Bacchus. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 2. Krewe of Napoleon. Metairie.
March 3. Krewe of Proteus. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 3. Krewe of Orpheus. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 3. Krewe of Hera. Metairie.
March 3. Krewe of Zeus. Metairie.
March 4. Krewe of Zulu. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 4. Krewe of Rex. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 4. Krewe of Argus. Metairie.
March 4. Krewe of Elks Orleans. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 4. Krewe of Crescent City. Uptown, New Orleans.
March 4. Krewe of Elks Jefferson. Metairie.
March 4. Krewe of Jefferson. Metairie.
March 4. Societe de Ste. Anne. French Quarter, New Orleans.
March 4. Krewe de Lune. French Quarter, New Orleans.
March 4. Krewe of Kosmic Debris. French Quarter, New Orleans.
March 4. Mondo Cayo. French Quarter, New Orleans.
Orleans Parish Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, District B is leading this effort to tighten up some Carnival rules. Some make sense like ending parking on the opposite side of St Charles during parades. I didn’t see the toilet paper ban coming by any means, I thought the City Council was busy with the city’s business and the upcoming election. Wrong!
The Krewe of Tucks has already spent tens of thousands of dollars printing this year’s toilet tissue, and is shocked the ban is still part of the proposed ordinance.
The throw is made in America, unlike beads which are extruded in China in gulag type factories. Toilet paper disappears during the first hard rain, unlike beads which last for years. But as fast as this the toilet paper ban was presented by Cantrell it was withdrawn by Cantrell as the ruckus over this harebrained idea grew.
Tucks is known for several throws but their icon throw is their toilet paper roll. Each sheet has the Tucks logo printed on it. It’s not exactly on a par with the Zulu coconut, but it’s pretty high up there on the short list of icon throws along with Muses’ decorated shoe.
I spoke to some Uptown New Orleanians who don’t like St. Charles Avenue after Carnival with all the toilet paper on the majestic oak trees. Personally, I find the temporary effect surreal.
There is no competition when Muses hits St. Charles Avenue, in terms of original throws. There are a couple of different reasons for Muses’ unique throws. One the one hand they control all throws all members can toss. The krewe is rather large, at least 1,100 women.
On the other hand, they make the maximum amount of money on very expensive throws with small margins. The public benefits from these factors.
In 2013, I saw very few decorated shoes coming off the floats this year. Contrast this with my experience at the Zulu parade on Jackson Avenue. When the double deck floats arrived, I personally caught 5 coconuts in 10 minutes, then had to leave to make it to REX on time. If I had stuck around I would have caught a dozen coconuts from these double decker floats. Granted my costume was extensive for Zulu but for Muses I had my masculinity going for me.
Muses handed me lots of cool throws, I caught a powerful ring flashlight;a light up shopping bag medallion; a magnetic shopping list with pad and special marker; a reusable shopping bag, a collapsible flask with caribener; a heavy duty guide to the Makin’ Grocery floats that could double as a picnic blanket; shoe laces in a cool plastic test tube; koozies; kazoos; shoe bracelets; lariats; other medallions; shoe beads; coin purses, etc. It seemed relatively endless in terms of the variety of Muses stuff thrown off the floats.
This makes Muses a very high priced parade to ride in. I assume the dues is far less than the throws. By a wide margin. Again the public benefits from the wild variety of throws Muses throws.
Muses seems to pull marching organizations out of the wood work. No parade on St. Charles Avenue has more. They include the Pussyfooters; the Krewe of the Rolling Elvi;the 610 Stompers; the Camel Toe Lady Steppers; Disco Amigos; the Dead Rock Stars, and many more.