It’s a very short Mardi Gras season this year with Fat Tuesday one week from the earliest date (February 3) possible. For 2016, February 9 is early early. That makes KdV early early rolling on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 6 pm. That’s this Saturday and I’m in the parade! What’s the 2016 theme for the most ribald krewe of all of Mardi Gras? Krewe du Vieuxxxx is Rated XXX!!
The route has changed again, and there’s no doubling back as in most years. We march straight through the Faubourg Marigny and French Quarter, past Canal Street and Poydras, to the Civic Theater, 510 O’Keefe Street.
I’m a long time Escort for the Krewe of Underwear. It’s a really fun job, guarding our float and mule and making sure our krewe is moving without any undue delays. Escorts are supposed to do their jobs mostly sober, so if anything goes wrong, you’ll have your wits about you. I don’t drink booze until the parade is over, making me an ideal Escort.
The KdV Ball has two storied New Orleans bands, George Porter Jr and his Runnin’ Pardners and Walter Wolfman Washington. The 2016 Queen of Krewe du Vieux is FUSE reality show star and Bounce legend, Big Freedia. This is shaping up to be a super KdV party! KdV has three distinct parties on parade day. First is the pre-parade party, complete with beer, food, and live music; next the actual parade, with all the excitement that brings; and finish with their ball, complete with booze, food and more top shelf New Orleans live music. The ball has a down and dirty brass band jam and additional entertainment by the Mystic Ponies Aerial Troupe.
George Porter, Jr
BRASS BAND LIST FOR 2016 KREWE DU VIEUX
Baby Boyz Brass Band
Stooges Brass Band
Treme Brass Band
Egg Yolk Jubilee
Hot Eight Brass band
Down and Dirty
Krewe du Vieux is a very unusual krewe. Members design and build the floats themselves. Members don’t ride on the floats, but walk behind the float, handing out throws to the crowd. Over time, KdV amateur float builders gain practical experience and build high quality floats. Mules pull the floats, and sub-krewes design and make their own throws. It’s an adults only parade that some parade goers bring their children to. I don’t really understand that, if you cannot find a baby sitter, stay home if you have children.
When a Carnival krewe’s membership grows by roughly 50% last year (actually this year), you might say they have captured the public’s imagination. It takes a big effort, ridership and budget to make a real splash on the St. Charles parade route. We have Bacchus, Muses, Orpheus, and Thoth with well over 1,000 members, and the biggest of all, Endymion, has just over 3,000 members. Now NYX has 2,232, making them the second biggest krewe. A super krewe is measured by more than membership. The parade counts a lot. They have a very original throw, the decorated, logoed woman’s purse. But they have no original floats yet, as they are building their first for 2016. You need super floats for super krewe status, so NYX won’t arrive on that level until they have a handful of icon, original floats owned by the krewe, and not just rented ones.
When you see the Bacchagator or the Jester Float, it’s exciting because you are witnessing two of the icon floats of all of Carnival around the world.
In Greek mythology NYX was the Goddess of Night. NYX stood at or near the beginning of creation and was one of the first elements emerging from Chaos along with day, fire, and water. Her appearances in mythology are sparse, but reveal her as a figure of exceptional power and beauty. NYX had prophetic powers, and gave oracles from her home at the edge of the cosmos. She mothered other personified deities such as Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death), with Erebus. She was older and more powerful than Zeus, who deferred to her wishes.
Each year the krewe visits the tomb of Marie Laveau, legendary Voodoo priestess, to ask for good weather for their parade. Laveau is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
4 of 8 parades is big news. I’ve written about parade problems in Jefferson Parish before, including this entry about West Bank parade difficulties. Violations abound, and the krewes could lose their right to parade if they commit further violations in 2016.
I personally believe first violations should receive a warning. Mardi Gras krewes are a precious commodity. It takes oodles of cash, tight administration, organization skills and lots of dedicated people to successfully launch a parading organization. Mardi Gras krewes don’t grow on trees, they need to be nurtured carefully. Intentionally bruising Mardi Gras krewes helps ensure fewer krewes.
While the ordinance has been in effect for 2 years with no infractions noted before, putting half your krewes on probation is never a good idea. Why not ban Carnival in Slidell while the Council is at it?
The four offending krewes are Dionysus, the Slidell’s Woman’s Civic Club, Claude and Perseus. The four parades without letters are the two walking parades, Mona Lisa and MoonPie and Krewe de Paws of Olde Towne plus Selene and Titans.
Over the last few decades, a hands off attitude concerning local parades was in effect. Things got tough in 2013 when the Slidell City Council adopted a litany of rules and regulations governing Carnival. New Orleans had toughened their parade regulations, and Slidell followed their lead. Reasons for probation- insufficient floats, riders, and bands; inefficient parade tempo; inappropriate dancing and music (?). This seems very petty. Parades are mile long, living processions that sometimes develop gaps. DJs have to produce hours of music. Once every blue moon, a curse word may sneak in a song. It’s not the end of the world. It certainly doesn’t mean probation.
Something seems out of whack to me. Dionysus captain Andy Frisard mentioned an email informing krewes about a meeting which stated failing to attend could jeopardize their permits. That set the meeting off on a unfriendly tone. Why threaten your krewes, who work hard and spend a small fortune to produce their parade for the good of the community?
Contrast this with the response of the Jefferson Parish council, which recently gave Jefferson krewes high marks even though apparently many parade infractions occurred. Questionable throws and fighting are among the violations committed. It looks like Jefferson is getting lax while Slidell is tightening the screws.Jefferson krewes committed some egregious violations and got away with them! Throwing light bulbs (2014) and drug testing kits (2015) to the crowd is downright sick and dangerous. Who is the Jefferson Council kidding by granting this clean bill of krewe health? It turns out a Captain in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office filed suit in March 2014 in Jefferson Parish against 2 float riders in the Corps du Napoleon parade. Here’s the digest of the suit from Louisianarecord.com- GRETNA – A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office captain is suing a pair of Mardi Gras float riders, as well as the Mardi Krewe and the float’s sponsor for injuries he allegedly received in an incident on board their float. Claude Wood Jr., and wife Cindy, filed suit against Brian E. Duhe, Kyle T. Crochet, TP Clearview, Corps De Napoleon and their insurers in the 24th Judicial District Court on Jan. 16. Wood, a captain in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, alleges that on March 2, 2014 riders aboard a Corps De Napoleon float, sponsored by Twin Peaks restaurant, started unscrewing light bulbs from the float and throwing them into the crowd during a Mardi Gras parade. The plaintiff contends that he boarded the float to confront the riders when he was attacked by Duhe and Crochet, employees of Twin Peaks who allegedly failed to monitor their alcohol consumption and monitor their employee’s actions. Wood asserts he was injured in the incident and had to be treated at a local hospital. The defendants are is accused of failing to act with care and diligence, failing to take into account the safety of others, failing to prevent the throwing of lights bulbs from the float, failing to recognize the float riders were impaired and providing and encouraging alcohol consumption. Damages in excess of $75,000 is sought for physical pain and discomfort, mental anguish, disability, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, aggravation, annoyance, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of use of parts of body, bodily disability, impairment of psychological functioning, destruction of earning capacity, loss of support, loss of society and loss of consortium. Wood is represented by Robert. T. Evans of New Orleans-based Burgos & Evans. The case has been assigned to Division G Judge E. Adrian Adams. Case no. 745-922. –
What’s the motivation here? Jefferson Parish has been recently burned by old line krewes abandoning the parish for greener pastures on St. Charles Avenue. A check of sanctions passed by Jefferson in the last few years shows in 2012, 5 krewes were fined $1,300. The next year, 6 krewes were penalized $6,000. Last year, 1 krewe was fined $500. Slidell hasn’t lost any krewes to sanctions or parade route jumping yet. It should be interesting in Slidell the next few years.
Brazil is suffering from the worst drought in over 80 years. Crops are dying from lack of water, millions of Brazilians are short of drinking water, and electrical blackouts are common. The drought has been worsening for over a year and has decimated southeastern Brazil, the nation’s richest and most densely populated region. As the Southern Hemisphere enters into the zenith of its summer season, the drought continues to worsen.
Over a dozen cities and towns in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais have called off or scaled back their Carnival celebrations. Ouro Preto is a city in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, a former colonial mining town located in the Serra do Espinhaço mountains and designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its outstanding Baroque architecture, has been forced to rotate outages to ensure ample water for the 70,000 tourists who descend on Ouro Preto for Carnival.
In Brazil’s largest city, San Paulo, where water levels are alarmingly low, city council member Gilberto Natalini has called on the mayor and state governor to cancel Carnival and other humongous water intensive public events for the foreseeable future. It would be like dancing samba on a funeral, Mr. Natalini said.
Oliveira, with a population of 42,000, has canceled all 2015 festivities due to very low water supplies. They usually receive 20,000 Carnival visitors for its one week long Carnival celebration. The president of Oliveira’s Carnival Commission, Antonio Penido, said, Never in the history of our city has something like this happened. With broken hearts, we made the decision.
When the world thinks of Brazilian Carnival, it is Rio de Janeiro that comes to mind. The most out of this world and over the top version of Carnival will go on as scheduled with some concessions to current events. At least two of the large professional samba schools that create the event are scaling back water elements on their over-sized parade floats.
Light and mirror effects will be utilized instead of water to depict a rushing 20-foot fountain of youth for the Uniao da Ilha do Governador samba school in Rio. Tourism officials in Rio are expecting almost a million Carnival tourists, who are expected to spend three quarters of a billion dollars on all the myriad of tourist restaurants, lodging, souvenirs, transportation and deluxe parade seating and event packages.