Thongs Throw! Weird Throw!
Parades start again tomorrow with Druids and NYX. NYX has worked hard to establish their own icon throw, similar to the Krewe of Muses Shoe and the Zulu Coconut. The NYX Purse is a hand decorated purse or small hand bag. Their krewe has grown substantially the last few year as their parade presence has grown. Looking forward to their parade tomorrow night.
Working on my purple, green and gold costume for Fat Tuesday. Always celebrate Fat Tuesday in the official colors of Mardi Gras. Though Blaine Kern Artists remain the largest of the float builders, Royal Artists is my personal favorite. I catch Zulu on Jackson Avenue, then head to Harmony and St. Charles for REX. After REX I follow the truck parades downtown, and meet my girlfriend Sue Repasky. We ate at Mandina’s later that afternoon, and it was very good.
I’ve been in New Orleans for a long time, now, and I’m excited about Mardi Gras like I was brand new to it. There is something about the combination of bands, floats, crowds, ambiance, friends, family, and tradition that makes me very happy.Happy Mardi Gras!
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.
The first family of Mardi Gras, the people responsible for building REX, Bacchus, Endymion, Orpheus, Caesar, Zulu and many more Mardi Gras parades, have ended their family feud. When you sue your octogenarian father, you create a rift that’s hard to close, but apparently the Kern family have overcome their differences.
We are all happy to have it behind us and just kind of move forward and do what we do best, and that’s build floats and create Mardi Gras, Barry Kern said. Blaine Kern, Sr, the patriarch of the Kern clan, agreed to a corporate succession plan with his son of Blaine Kern Artists Inc at New Orleans Civil District Court last week. The senior Kern sold his 50.1 percent in the company to his son Barry. Blaine received a lifetime consulting contract with the firm.
Where is Blaine Kern, Jr? Blaine’s other son is no where to be found in this story. After meeting with the judge, Barry and Blaine, along with their wives and Barry’s sons Fitz and Andrew, all went out to lunch together. No sign of Blaine, Jr. or his family. Hmmm….
I’m elated this half a decade old sad story has a happy ending. The patriarch is satisfied as he got paid by his son for his company so he can ‘retire’ in comfort. He’s 88, and mostly wants to spend time with his wife Holly and burnish his Mr. Mardi Gras brand.
I’ve also said before, the reason this whole court debacle occurred is because Pixie Naquin isn’t there to smooth over the hurt feelings for the sake of family unity. She was the founder’s executive secretary almost since he started out in business, and she never let past serious family disputes end up on court. She was the cat’s meow for Kern Enterprises, there’s absolutely no doubt about that.
Judge Kern Reese’s consent judgement accomplishes several things- the court retains jurisdiction for two years over any future problems, all lawsuits filed by both parties are dismissed, and Reese’s 2012 injunction giving Barry Kern control of the company is terminated.
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.