It was fabulous, darling, just fabulous. That’s how I would sum up the 2017 season. It was a warm Carnival , always preferable to a cold or wet one. When Fat Tuesday falls in late February, like it did this year, warm weather is practically expected. I’ve always loved Carnival since coming to New Orleans, it has always been my favorite holiday. I alway costume on Fat Tuesday in the colors of Carnival; purple, green, and gold. It’s a good look for me. Zulu always responds to a good costume; REX doesn’t if the costume mimics their look, which I do. I still do well at Rex, as I’m an enthusiastic parade goer and I’ve always reported positively and honestly about Rex on this blog, so karma is with me during their parade.
I’m in one of the earliest parades, KdV, Krewe du Vieux. It’s the parade most like parades from 100 years ago, which is why I take part. Participating in a parade remains one of the greatest experiences a New Orleanian can experience, and shouldn’t be missed. Every time a parade participant meets the eyes of a parade goer asking for a throw, a tiny piece of energy is transferred from parade watcher to parade participant. Over the course of an entire parade, the energy addition for the parade participant is slight but palpable. This boost lasts a day or two.
Handing out throws is the most elegant and fun micro moment repeated throughout the parade. The sheer joy of connecting with a parade goer is really big. Again, when, the parade is over, a parade participant feels the joy of mass giving on a repetitive level over a couple of hours. It’s a very happy effect.
Food wise, Carnival 2017 was a success. We finished up at Theo’s Pizza, who make a mean pie. It was delicious, and the wait wasn’t that long for Fat Tuesday. For the final 5 days of Carnival, I cooked macaroni and beef and made my wonderful sausage and chicken gumbo. That carried us through the main Carnival weekend with great style and elan. We ate our share of King Cakes and found Gracious King Cakes from the bakery to be stellar but when bought from Whole Foods, had aged considerably and the filling dried up.
Company was stellar. Over Carnival, alcohol flows freely, making parades in general more fun. I was with my girlfriend Sue and my good friend Billy and his friends. We drank every few days and good times ensued with or without booze. We all love the parades, with their bright lights, animals, freshness, music, spectacle, beauty and excitement.
I followed my usual plan, catching Zulu and Rex before hitting the French Quarter. Zulu didn’t disappoint. I saw Mayor Landrieu on horseback with his official posse. He looked happy, riding his horse in unison with other dignitaries and NOPD. I caught them at Jackson and Dryades, a traditional spot for me. Bought a drink at a local bar right before the parade and over the next hour I caught 5 coconuts. It was wild and a lot of fun. Zulu looked fierce in the brilliant sunlight. I missed my friend but really had a good time at Zulu 2017.
It was on to Rex around 9:30 by foot, and it takes about 20 minutes to walk to Harmony Street. The sights and sounds around me were intensifying as the day wore on. All the revelers on St. Charles, the crowds parked for Rex and the trucks to follow, it was a sight to behold. There really isn’t anything remotely similar to St. Charles Avenue on Mardi Gras Day. It’s a one of a kind event on a one of kind day.
The crowd around Zulu on Jackson, for Rex on St. Charles and Harmony, and walking toward home in Mid City was cordial and hospitable. New Orleanians celebrate Mardi Gras in their own ways. Some on the parade route, some in the street, some at home with friends and family. I passed many families in the neighborhood around Zulu and Rex BBQing
I’ve always found that eating around Mardi Gras parades, parties and events is a big part of the fun. The better the food, the better the experience. It’s very simple. On the parade routes, BBQ is often king. Cooking your own ribs and meats on the parade route is super cool, and a great BBQ experience. Preparing your food before going out on the parade route is the best way to guarantee a superior result.
If you start your fire early enough, you can cook meals that take hours to cook, including ribs, brisket, etc. Slow cooking is a required part of better BBQ and grilling at the Mardi Gras.
Other folks prefer premier deli meats and cheeses, plus gourmet breads and condiments for a fantastic sandwich. I used to go to Martin’s Wine Cellar after they built a deli and buy a few pounds of their wonderful roast beef and roast turkey, etc. We made high grade Fat Tuesday grade sandwiches for years for our friends and guests.
Ate few of just OK sandwiches, chips and powdered donuts at the Krewe’s of Underwear pre parade party last night. The krewe gets to start drinking here, but the refs don’t as a rule. That was the worst food of the day, and it wasn’t that bad. After the parade at the ball site we found some food and the lines were short. There is free krewe food brought by the each of the 17 individual sub krewes and free beer. Each truck specializes in something different so the choices abound. The eating was a highlight of the night as we were quite hungry by the time the 2.5 miles parade ends after 3 hours of marching and lots of dancing. I generally bring my own booze to the party, so I stay away from bar lines, but I chose not to drink at all this year. I still enjoyed the crap out of the evening.
We paid $9 for three freshly made beef tacos we got from a taco truck parked across the Civic Auditorium where the parade ended and the ball took place. They were scrumptious to say the least. We were starving. There were other food trucks parked in the same parking lot, so choices abounded.
Chicken Fried Catfish Plate
King Cakes are the dessert of Carnival New Orleans and they are often served on Fat Tuesday. There are a lot of king cakes out there- every bakery and grocery within a 100 miles sell them successfully. I have a couple of favorites, everyone who eats them does. Gracious Bakery stands out in my mind. Though they certainly aren’t King Cakes, I have Brocato’s cannolis in my fridge right now and will resupply throughout the season. That’s the best of the best of the commercial desserts out there.
So eat well during the Carnival season, and especially well on the big day, Fat Tuesday, February 28 2017. We wll. Happy Mardi Gras to the world!!
Saw this basket while in the Broad Street Whole Foods today.
It’s January 16, 2017, which means the it’s Carnival Time in New Orleans! The season officially begins on January 6, also known as Twelfth Night. My own krewe, Krewe du Vieux (KdV), rolls Saturday, February 11. I’m an escort for the Krewe of Underwear, one of the many sub krewes that make up KdV. Mardi Gras is fun for everyone, but rolling with a parade krewe is a big step up in fun.
Joan of Arc already rolled downtown, and was a small, floatless affair. Fun nonetheless.
Mardi Gras Day, aka Fat Tuesday, is rather late, February 28. That often means a warm Fat Tuesday. I love Fat Tuesday regardless of the weather but a warm day means a skimpy costume choice. Less is always more during Carnival time.
The original super-krewe, Bacchus,has chosen TV’s Person of Interest’s Jim Caviezel as Bacchus 2017. The parade’s theme is Salute to the Saints. Bacchus was formed in 1967 by restaurateur Owen Brennan as the first modern super krewe, because of it’s size, celebrity kings, and spectacular super floats.
Bacchus parades the Sunday before Fat Tuesday. The 2009 Krewe included more than 1,350 members, and its parade featured 33 floats including its signature floats: the Bacchasaurus, a giant dinosaur; the Bacchawhoppa, an equally large whale; Bacchagator, an enormous alligator; and Baccatality, a 3-float procession made up of restaurateurs. The Baccamore’, a love themed float, was introduced in 2008. In keeping with tradition, “Bacchus beads” and doubloons are thrown to revelers from the floats.
Bacchus blazed the way for numerous other New Orleans Mardi Gras super krewes, including Endymion, Orpheus, and Muses. I credit Bacchus with a lot of innovation back in a day when all floats were small. HAIL BACCHUS 2017, February 27 2017!! Happy Mardi Gras to all!
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.