Krewe of Chewbacchus
We truly live in the age of the democratization of Mardi Gras krewes. No longer do you have to spend a thousand dollars or much more to participate in a Mardi Gras parade (Bacchus, Endymion, Muses). The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus charges around $40 to join. My own Krewe du Vieux is around $125. This is really a fantastic development, and it opens up the thrill of belonging to a krewe to so many more New Orleanians and regional folks.
Many of these alternative krewes cost nothing to join. If you show up in costume with a musical instrument while the Krewe of Kosmic Debris is rolling, you are in. If you have a fantastic costume, the Societe de Saint Anne will welcome you.
The Mystic Krewe of Barkus is another inexpensive krewe, and it’s unique- You need a dog to participate. Barkus is a lot of fun- New Orleans is a very doggy city, and we really do get attached to our four legged friends.
Regular krewes hire float builders to build their parades. Alternative krewes generally build their floats themselves, and over time may become very good at their efforts.
Many alternative krewes consist of sub-krewes. I belong to the Krewe du Vieux, and my sub krewe is the Krewe of Underwear. Other KdV sub-krewes- Comatose, Drips and Discharges, and Seeds of Decline.
The Krewe of Cork has grown into a very substantial entity. Founded in 2000, the KoC has grown into a world-famous Mardi Gras and wine industry phenomenon. Krewe members gather on selected Fridays, usually the first Friday of each month, at restaurants throughout the area for T.G.I.C.D. (Thank Goodness It’s Cork Day).
The krewe’s two main events of the year are its Mardi Gras parade day festivities, and participation in the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience Royal Street Stroll. Throughout the year, the Krewe of Cork invites members to wine dinners and other special occasions, such as road trips and wine tastings.
Then there’s Better Than Ezra’s Krewe of Rocckus. Begun in 2011, Rocckus was formed to allow BTE’s fan base a way to celebrate Carnival with the band. Rocckus includes concerts, a brunch, second line parade, private parade viewing and a cruise on the Creole Queen.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is under three weeks away! In the middle of all that, we are hosting the Super Bowl, featuring the Baltimore Ravens vs. the San Francisco 49ers. Mardi Gras will be taking a nine day vacation while we host Super Bowl XLVII in the venerable Super Dome!!
We are having an incredible month, with President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, MLK Day, plus the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras! Whew!! That’s a lot of huge events for any month in New Orleans. Of course, the President’s inauguration and MLK Day occur all over the USA, From New York to California and all points in between.
The 2013 Carnival season kicks off in high gear this weekend with lots of parades on the St. Charles Avenue route. Oshun, Cleopatra, Pontchartrain, Choctaw, Sparta, Pygmalion, Carrollton, and King Arthur all roll down the traditional route.
Can you guess how many parades from the list immediately above are older than 20 years old originated on St. Charles Avenue?
Uno Un One. Which one?
Sparta, which began in 1951. There are plenty of old neighborhood parades in that list. Can you guess them?
Cleopatra paraded for 39 years across the Mississippi River before changing to St. Charles for 2013.The New Orleans City Council voted on yesterday (January 24) allowing the ladies krewe from the west bank to move their parade to the traditional New Orleans uptown route. The Krewe of Cleopatra will kick off the Carnival Season on January 25, 2013, the first Friday of Mardi Gras.
Captain Dolores Kepner says,This is the perfect year for us to move our parade to the New Orleans uptown route. It opens up tremendous possibilities for the first weekend of Mardi Gras. We are honored to be a part of that.
Choctaw is parading down St. Charles for the first time in 2013, and has plans to return to their traditional parading grounds, the West Bank, in 2014. King Arthur (1977) also started on the West Bank. Pontchartrain began in the Lakeview area, marching on Hayne Boulevard by the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Carrollton first paraded in their namesake neighborhood. Oshun and Pygmalion started on St. Charles, but they are newer parades.
That leaves only the Knights of Sparta as an historic procession originating on St. Charles. The Knights of Sparta are often mis-named the Krewe of Sparta!
There are two non-conformist parades out in the Faubourg Marigny over this weekend- ‘tit Rәx, and Chewbacchus, and both roll Saturday in the Marigny. ‘Tit Rәx used to be named ‘tit Rex, until the King of Carnival, the Monarch of Merriment, sued tiny little ‘tit Rex for stealing their name! As can be seen from the photo below, ‘tit Rәx is a miniature hand made float procession, not a full sized parade like Rex. I don’t think Rex made the proper decision, but tit ‘Rәx’s solution to turn the ‘e’ in Rex into a ‘schwa’ which is what a ‘ә‘ is.
Chewbacchus is a science fiction kind of krewe which features costumes and hand pulled floats in the Star Wars tradition.
It’s my 30+ anniversary of my first NOLA Mardi Gras, I’ve been here since 1975. Turns out I love Mardi Gras more now than I ever did, and that’s because it’s more fun than ever! There are way more private events, night spots, affordable krewes, and scheduled events than ever before. There are an amazing assortment of neighborhood Mardi Gras celebrations that leave the parades alone and are very genuine in their own right.
Cheaper original krewes lead the way in making Mardi Gras more affordable to the masses. Many krewes have their own ideas as to throws, floats, and music. There’s more variety to the throws than ever before. The leader in innovative throws is the all female krewe of Muses. Krewe of Chewbacchus leads the way in affordable krewe fees.
There are more music clubs than ever, with alternative rock, brass band, rock, R&B, Funk, Soul, etc. enjoying a live music club renaissance on a level I haven’t seen in 30+ years. Many of these newer and some older clubs lack a music license, meaning no cover charge, and the band gets paid via tip jar plus 20% of the bar. When the club does around a thousand patrons or so, the band can make real bucks this way.
Facebook and other social networking sites make it easier to keep in touch with friends from high school through retirement, making the party that much richer and fun.
Add the exotic foods, and you have a grand slam of fun. King Cakes lead the way in Mardi Gras foods. I’ve had sushi, BBQ, Popeyes, lots of Martin’s Wine Cellar roast beef, rotisserie smoked turkey breast, etc. sandwiches. I’ve grilled fish, oysters, steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, shrimps, and lots of vegetables. All on Fat Tuesday. Desserts like Decadent Chocolate Cake, Mandel Brot, pies, cookies, loafs, etc.
Update! Endymion will be foregoing the Canal Street loop because of inclement weather.
The threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms on Saturday evening has forced NOMTOC, Tucks and Iris to switch days to Sunday and Monday. Endymion and Chewbacchus are still planning to roll today. Depending on how the weather fares this afternoon, Endymion could switch to Sunday night, following Bacchus.
As it stands now, NOMTOC and Iris will roll before Okeanos early tomorrow morning, and Tucks will roll before Proteus on Monday at 3 pm, followed by Orpheus.
Endymion has announced they plan to roll at 5:30 pm today on their traditional Canal Street route.