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.
Last year’s Parade of the Year, Muses, has taken a step back, as their 2012 floats lacked first rate execution. Blaine Kern didn’t do his usual excellent work for a relatively new super krewe. The floats moved so quickly it was difficult to get a good look.
Their own floats sparkled as usual (also made by Kern). Super krewes draw a huge audience, which often brings out the boorish behavior in many hard drinking spectators, as they jostle the crowd in pursuit of Muses’ vaunted logoed throws.
Not too long ago, Muses was a new krewe that drew much smaller crowds. The sheer number of unique throws, memorable floats and biting satire hadn’t caught on yet. Any ordinary Joe could catch a shoe back then. Those days are way over now.
Muses throws were not anything special for 2012. Check out the YouTube video above, that is one cool fan!! I caught it several years ago. I’m waiting for another out-of-the-box throw.
Their throws included a number of new logoed items, including a band-aid box; a coin purse on a lanyard; a bottle opener/flashlight on a bead and a floating liquid pen. The most original of those throws is the floating liquid pen. That’s a fun writing tool!
I rate Muses number 3 for 2012.
Number 2 is REX, the King of Carnival. They are the oldest daytime parade and still roll on wooden wagon wheels.
REX is number 2 for their historic use of wagon wheels, plus several other important factors. It was a perfect day, and REX is a daytime parade. Blaine Kern builds this parade, and it’s their number 1 showcase daytime parade. The paint job was gorgeous! Kudos to the Kern painting team.
REX introduced their new Butterfly King float for 2012.
REX had several good bands, including the United States Army and the Tulane University Marching Bands. Monroe’s High School Marching Band delivered a strong performance as well. By the time REX rolls on Fat Tuesday, most high school bands are unable to march anymore due to marching limits imposed by the City Council.
The floats looked terrific, as did the krewe’s costumes. The throws were typically REX with a couple of exceptions- they had a fancy cloisonne pin celebrating the new Butterfly King float and re-introduced the plush crown they first threw a few years ago.
Number 1 for 2012 goes to Hermes!! They had it all together in 2012, and that’s a very tall order.
Their bands were top notch- St. Augustine, Xavier Prep, L.B. Landry, McDonogh 35 and several out-of-state bands all marched with Hermes.
Hermes’ throws were improved. They threw plastic Hermes goblets, a light up Hermes headband with plastic wings (D’Etat threw the same headband in purple with the D’Etat logo instead of wings), light up medical caduceus beads, blinky winged shoe beads and a light up ball. A nice throw this year was a crawfish/centipede stuffed toy in Mardi Gras colors. I’m not sure if this an official Hermes toy or a generous generic one.
The floats were top of the line old fashioned, marked by striking colors and expressive prop figures, wonderfully detailed, and an abundance of bouncing paper ornaments, including flowers, grapes, snowflakes and more. The floats moved at a reasonable pace and the traditional flambeaux were interspersed with the floats as were the Lieutenants on horseback, who dispensed purple riding doubloons.
As per tradition, the Hermes captain leads the parade in full regalia on a white horse.
Special Mention goes to the Mystic Krewe of Proteus for the float work of Royal Artists. They have a web site here, it apparently hasn’t been updated for a couple of years, as they are Bordeaux Street uptown and the site lists the North Shore.
I think Emily Gras was one of the coolest Mardi Gras events ever! This child was traumatized by stupid drunk parade goers, and after Mom blogs about it, BOOM! A group of Muses members along with some 610 Stompers and other marching groups invited Emily and her mom to the Muses Den for some first class treatment and a ton of great throws.
A happy ending for this child, but there is a dark side to the Carnival parade world that received a lot of press due to this incident, including a big story on the front page of the Times-Picayune and TV news coverage by the local stations. The Huffington Post spread the story worldwide.
There is a huge amount of underage drinking at the parades. This has to be the biggest underage public drinking party in New Orleans. Kids don’t hold their liquor very well, leading to a lot of boorish parade behavior.
If you are handicapped or elderly, plenty of parade goers can’t wait to step in front of you for a better vantage point. They really don’t mean to block your view of the parade, they don’t think of that. They are just doing their thing at the Mardi Gras. My wife attends parades in her scooter. She’s the invisible woman, that’s our joke about how overzealous parade attendees treat her.
Then there’s the haughty krewe members and their exclusive throwing habits. They throw to the pretty young things on the parade route, and to children. If you are any age other than those two groups, most krewe members wouldn’t throw to you.
Muses members reported to me that as their parade has grown to super krewe status in the last few years, bigger crowds have turned out and bad manners on the parade route have grown exponentially. That makes the ultimate New Orleans experience, joining a krewe, not as much fun as it should be. In a perfect world, krewe members would be egalitarian but that doesn’t mean they will be. Booze may affect their judgement considerably. As the throws have become more exclusive, bad behavior seems to grow. Only the longest beads and the more exclusive throws count.
Reserving spaces on the neutral ground and side walks has developed into a fine art. Dozens of ladders with kiddie seats are set up right next to one another, making an impenetrable barrier. Huge tarps are used to hold big spaces as well. Though this behavior is not allowed by the police, they don’t enforce this at all.
In many respects, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is growing with many positive developments. The democratization of Mardi Gras means more people can get into krewes for less money.The greening of Mardi Gras is happening on many levels, from the green throws of the Giacona Company to the growing bead recycling effort and the ARC Recycling Parade Vehicle. VerdiGras is a Carnival Krewe dedicated a greener cleaner Mardi Gras.
I’m very hopeful about the future of Carnival, but troubled by some of recent negative changes.
The past year has seen a few upheavals in the topsy turvy world of Carnival. Blaine Kern Sr was knocked out of action by his son in the Louisiana Court of Appeals, you can thank Sr’s new bride for much of Mr Mardi Gras’ problems.
It doesn’t appear that any of the Kern’s major Mardi Gras float building accounts have moved on. Rex, Bacchus, Orpheus, Muses, Alla, Endymion are all built by Kern enterprises for decades.
Jefferson Parish began the slow process of upgrading their parades. This is a very good idea, as their parades had slid considerably since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
For 2012, Gretna loses their most historic Mardi Gras Day parade, Grela, the West Bank’s only local celebration on Fat Tuesday.
Gretna stopped funding Mardi Gras in April when officials had to choose between paying for Mardi Gras activities and giving money to the Gretna Heritage Festival.
Yes, Gretna Fest has grown into a really nice festival, but Grela is Jefferson Parish’s oldest Carnival krewe. Gretna Fest has a huge budget with the dozens of bands that play the several day festival. They have corporate funding, charge a cover charge to enter the Festival, and sell a lot of food, drinks, and beer. They certainly could have covered the $30,000 much much easier than Grela could, and this is an obvious fact the Council should have seen a mile off.
Therefore, a Carnival Jeer goes out to the Gretna City Council for backing the total wrong horse with this poor decision in April 2011. The krewe was founded in 1947 as a men’s club, but it changed its name to Grela, an acronym for Gretna, La.
Earlier this year Rhea, another Jefferson Parish krewe, called it quits. Rhea was formed in 1969, making this parade over 40 years old! It began as an all woman parade, but became coed in later years. Rhea was the first Jefferson parade to roll down Veterans Boulevard, and the one of the few Jefferson parades to hold their ball in the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans.
One relatively new, local, and all male marching group, the 610 Stompers, marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Wow! The Stompers’ over the top dance routines flabbergasted Matt Lauer and Al Roker, it was a real New Orleans moment in New York City on national TV. They also appeared on the Hoda & Kathie Lee Show. That’s a lot of national attention for our homegrown group, and it’s well deserved!
From whereyat.com’s article on the Stompers-
What makes these men so special is not only their uncanny ability to entertain crowds, but also the motivation behind the uniforms. What started as a plan to start an all male dance school to help pay for their Saints season tickets in their namesake section 610, has turned into an incredible medium to have fun while help others. Underneath those mustaches of manliness lie men with hearts larger than most. Since their formation in 2009, the 610 Stompers have raised and donated over $100,000 to charity. They were asked to be this year’s “Corporate Chair” of the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Louisiana and Mississippi, released a Stomp Out Breast Cancer video with Touro Infirmary, and have partnered with over 13 local and national foundations where their dance moves have helped those less fortunate. They have mastered having fun with making a difference. At this year’s 610 Ball they gave $610 to each of over 20 local charities, which at first glance doesn’t seem like a lot. However, these grants more often doubled the charities’ operating budgets making a profound impact on our citizens and local community.
The first new full-fledged Carnival parade in Orleans Parish since before Hurricane Katrina, Nyx won approval from the City Council on a 6-0 vote to amend the 2012 calendar and schedule Nyx after the Druids parade on the Uptown route the Wednesday before Mardi Gras.
The city’s last new parading krewe was Morpheus in 2002, a year after Muses and the Knights of Chaos made their debuts.
From their web site:
“Three native New Orleans women always loved the traditions, pageantry, and fun of Mardi Gras. For years they admired the floats and loved the bands. They enjoyed how much the kids’ faces would light up when they caught stuffed or beaded treasures. The women adored how the crowds screamed to the riders “Throw me something!”
2012 forecast will continue with part 3 in the near future.