Mardi Gras parade
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.
I’ve written about the problems Carnival on the West Bank is having recently, when the Krewe of Choctaw left the West Bank after more than 75 years. After a test year parading down the historic St. Charles Avenue route, they are making the switch permanent.
Now, the mighty Krewe of Alla, after 80 years, is making the change also, leaving only three parades- Grela, NOMTOC, and Adonis. Alla claims financial concerns are forcing the change. It’s true Alla has lost a lot of members over the last few years, as they only have 175 right now. The Captain said a few months ago they would move the parade if they couldn’t attract 200 new members. In my estimation, they didn’t allow enough time to gain those members. Two or three months isn’t realistic. We are in the Mardi Gras ‘off season’, and even though behind the scenes many Mardi Gras businesses and krewes are in high gear planning for Mardi Gras 2014, the average carnival participant isn’t focusing on Mardi Gras this time of year. It’s unrealistic to ask for 200 new members on this basis. It seems to me that Alla planned to leave the West Bank all along.
Choctaw’s growth aspirations are much more realistic. They say they have 200 members, and hope to gain 50 new recruits. For this reason, I back Choctaw’s move far more than Alla’s. Obviously, the long, colorful and successful tradition of parades on the West Bank is in serious danger. When you only have three parades over the Carnival season, you don’t have a parade season, just a single parade every few days. This is a very sad development. The lure of the most famous parade route in the world, St. Charles Avenue, is very strong. In Orleans Parish, as police and sanitation costs rose substantially, neighborhood parades were told to abandon their historic routes in favor of St. Charles Avenue. Pontchartrain used to parade on Hayne Boulevard, by Lake Pontchartrain. Freret used to march down Freret St. Now, both go down St. Charles Avenue. As a matter of fact, all Orleans parades except for Endymion march down St. Charles.
There is one new positive development that might fix the West Bank parade situation, it’s the spanking new Huey P. Long Bridge! Seven long years in the making, the new bridge cost $1.2 billion, making it the one of the most expensive construction projects in the the state’s history. The infamously thin Depression-era bridge has always been a mental and physical barrier to connecting both sides of the Mississippi River. Politicians and West Bank supporters have felt for decades that a wider bridge would lead to an expansion of the western areas of the West Bank, as there are still big patches of undeveloped land across the bridge. We’ll have to see if Carnival on the West Bank grows as well.
Our New Orleans City Council is considering a parade proposal that would let the crowd throw back beads at specially designed bead recycling floats. This is an excellent idea whose time has certainly come. I saw such a float at the end of some parades in 2012.
There’s a very cool documentary about where our beloved Mardi Gras beads come from. Mardi Gras: Made in China is all about our beads and the China connection. Here’s a clip from youtube.com.
That’s a lot of wasted beads! Even though there’s been a law on the books banning parade goers from throwing beads at floats, that hasn’t stopped anyone, when the right float goes by. Bacchus’ Kong series of floats are all targets of beads.Tucks’ toilet float is another serious target.
Councilwoman Susan Guidry, a big recycling champion, is behind this effort. The council could pass the ordinance very quickly in time for the Carnival 2013, or let it sit until 2014.
Verdigras.org is a new Mardi Gras green effort. From their web site-
an amalgam of ages, races, sexes,
and families speaking a common
Mardi Gras is about the show,
not the throw, the community
joie de vivre.
conservation of our resources
–Inspiring others and ourselves in
creating and supporting a greener,
cleaner Mardi Gras for all – with a
spirit of creativity and fun, and
–Reducing our dependence on foreign
throws and throws in general.
My own krewe, Krewe du Vieux, has a text message list for many personnel, including Referees. This is a long overdue improvement in parade time krewe decision making. Due to the instantaneous nature of text messaging, changes in scheduling, etc. can be distributed immediately. During a parade, the bands, crowds and krewe members make a big ruckus. Phones cannot always be heard, and vibrating phones merge into other vibrations from bass/snare drums, brass and woodwind instruments, crowds screaming, etc. The party is at Re Store of Habitat. Walter Wolfman is playing with Fred Wesley !!
KdV is a very old fashioned krewe, it’s the only donkey driven parade in Orleans Parish during Carnival. They are allowed to march in the French Quarter and Marigny because of their historic scale. There is no doubt their biting political humor is more ribald than all other parades. It’s the only ‘adult’ parade during Carnival.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve cut down on the parades on the North Shore, West Bank, Metairie, etc. I focus on the myriad of parades in my own backyard, Orleans Parish, my home since I was a Senior at Cornell. Here’s the schedule for Orleans Parish-
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10th
- Krewe of Cork at 3pm in the French Quarter
- Krewe of Oshun Uptown 6:00pm
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 11th
- Krewe of Pontchartrain Uptown 2:00 p.m.
- ‘tit Rəx Bywater 5:30 p.m.
- Knights of Sparta Uptown 6:00 p.m.
- Krewe of Pygmalion Uptown 6:45 p.m.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 12th
- Krewe of Carrollton Uptown 12:00 p.m.
- Krewe of King Arthur Uptown 1:15 p.m.
- Mystic Krewe of Barkus French Quarter 2:00 p.m. This parade is all for dogs.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15th
- Krewe of Ancient Druids Uptown 6:30 p.m.
- Krewe of Nyx Uptown 7pm
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 16th
- Knights of Babylon, Uptown 5:45
- Krewe of Chaos, Uptown 6:30
- Krewe of Muses, Uptown 6:30
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17th
- Divine Protectors of Endangered Pleasures or DIVA French Quarter 1:30 p.m.
- Knights of Hermes Uptown 6:00 p.m.
- D’Etat- Uptown, 6:00 p.m.
- Krewe of Morpheus Uptown 7:00 p.m.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18th
- Iris – Uptown, 11:00 a.m.
- Tucks – Uptown, 12:00 p.m.
- Endymion – Mid City, 4:15 p.m.
- Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, Central City and CBD, 5:00 p.m.
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 19th
- Okeanos – Uptown, 11:00 a.m.
- Mid-City – Uptown, 11:45 p.m.
- Thoth – Uptown, 12:00 a.m.
- Bacchus- Uptown, 5:15 p.m.
LUNDI GRAS, FEBRUARY 20TH
- Proteus- Uptown, 5:15 p.m.
- Orpheus – Uptown, 6:00 p.m.
- Lundi Gras Celebration
MARDI GRAS, FEBRUARY 21st
- Zulu- Uptown, 8:00 a.m.
- Rex – Uptown, 10:00 a.m.
- Elks Orleans – Uptown, 11:30 a.m.
- Crescent City – Uptown, follows Elks