Archive for January, 2010



flambeaux lighting 2009

Illumination, so important to every night parade, has undergone many changes since Comus first introduced torches in their 1857 parade.  Today, fiber optics, neon, and powerful Las Vegas style ‘running lights’ are growing increasing sophisticated but the old fiery flambeaux, with their golden glow, are much more appealing. Flambeaux means ‘torch’ in French.

The Richardson family first built and used flambeaux in New Orleans over one hundred years ago, although no patent was obtained until the 1930s. Momus was the first krewe to use the new flambeau in the 1870s, but they never owned their own- just rented them from other krewes.

Prior to the Richardson’s flambeaux, the krewes used hand torches, made from pine tar rags on wooden staves. Comus and Proteus first purchased the all metal flambeaux. Each club bought 400 devices, an order that has sufficed to this day. The two share a den, so all the flambeaux are now stored together. The earliest flambeau carriers were slaves and free men of color. The parade spectators would throw coins to the carriers, a tradition that continues today.

Bacchus innovated a new version of the flambeaux operating on natural gas. They burn cleaner and the units don’t suffer from the leakage problem the older liquid fuel models have. Endymion has become a big user of these newer flambeaux.

Barry Donahue is a flambeaux coordinator who hires torch carriers to help light parade routs for 3 Carnival krewes. “I need about 200 people and I’m just one (recruiter).”

Donahue, who says he has been organizing flambeaux crews for more than 20 years, said roughly half of his original labor crew has not returned since Hurricane Katrina flooded the city in 2005.

He has placed help wanted ads for “$$flambeaux carriers$$” in the Times-Picayune newspaper for at least a week with his phone number (504) 250-4462.

“In the past 6 or 7 years, we have been getting some college students,” he said. “It would be a great thing for a fraternity.”

Flambeaux organizers are not alone in the hunt for itinerant workers during the 12-day Carnival season.

Cascade Stables at Audubon Park has been advertising for “horse walkers” for several Carnival parades. See their Web site at Efforts to reach a spokesperson by phone were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Donahue says he pays flambeaux carriers about $55 per parade. However, the traditional “tips” thrown by parade spectators can swell a carrier’s pockets by an additional $300 to $600 a night, he said.

Many scoop up wads of cash.

“They don’t bother with coins anymore,” Donahue says of the itinerant workers.

Wearing a white, hooded cloak known as a “domino,” the flambeau carrier holds a rack of fuel and flame overhead like a flagpole — aided by a special belt.

A little showmanship often means more tips. So parade-goers are likely to see flambeaux carriers spinning their flaming cargo overhead, especially if there is a marching band nearby.

Krewe du Vieux 2010


Krewe du Vieux 2010

Krewe du Vieux is Fired Up!!

Krewe Website:

Parade Rolls January 30th, 2010  6:30 pm

August 5, 2009  FIRE AT THE KREWE DU VIEUX DEN!!  Here’s my post that day:

Got this from one of the New Orleans bloggers: Just got home. Fire trucks everywhere. KdV Den fire. Seeds, Lewd and TOKIN floats are toast. Fire out now. Looked in for a sec before being shooed away. Front right corner of the den is just pretty much gone–I mean the stuff that was in that corner. Wanted to take pics but wasn’t allowed. Will try to get over there again. No word on the cause.

KdV fire damaged area

KdV Seeds after den fire

January 12, 2010- I’m happy to report the damaged floats are repaired, and the krewe is putting the finishing touches on all floats as they prepare to roll in a couple of weeks.

No parade heralds the start of the Orleans Parish Parade Season more than KdV. I’m an escort in the parade, as I was last year. That means I’m float and krewe security while the parade rolls. I get to photo the krewe and the den before the parade, interview key krewe leaders.

Before there was KdV, there was its predecessor, Krewe of Clones.  Clones grew directly out of the Contemporary Arts Center. The CAC ran the parade, and the parade staging area was the CAC parking lot on Camp Street. It was an arty, satirical parade from the start. I still have an original Krewe of Clones T shirt with the theme Barbie & Ken go to the World’s Fair.

After watching the parade one year in front of the CAC, we noticed the CAC Parade Marshall was drinking heavily over the couple of hours it took the parade to leave the staging parking lot.

The next year, we hatched a plan to crash the parade with our own float, taking advantage of  the Marshall’s inebriation. We decorated our VW van into an elephant float by dying some sheets gray, and constructing a paper mache trunk, ears, and tail.

The night of the parade, we drove our float into position next to the CAC.  When the parade was almost out of the staging area, we took advantage of the loose formation conditions, and drove our float straight onto the route. The Parade Marshall waved us on. For the next few years, we morphed that old van into other animals, and continued to crash the parade until the Marshall ‘retired’.

As stated, I’m in the Krewe of Underwear. Here, straight from the Krewe’s of Underwear website is the rest of the story:

The Krewe of Underwear was founded in [the early 1980s] as a sub-krewe of the storied Krewe of Clones. This wild, satirical Carnival parade, which first marched in 1978, was based out of New Orleans’ Contemporary Arts Center.

Unfortunately, in 1986, infighting among the Krewe/CAC leadership, combined with pressures from the City due to the parade occurring the night before the Super Bowl was to be played in New Orleans, caused the untimely demise of the Krewe of Clones. Not wishing to be denied a good time or any excuse for wild excess, the Krewe of Underwear along with another Clones sub-krewe, the Krewe of Mama Roux, held a “Clone Funeral”. An anatomically correct (and erect) clone was created and placed on a funeral cart, and a short march to a party site was planned.

At the last minute, the individual most responsible for the entire problem got word of the plans, and called the police on the unauthorized march. Informed by New Orleans’ finest that they could not march in the street, since that would block traffic, the Underwearians and their fellow mourners marched on the sidewalk, while eleven police cars rolled along next to them, blocking the street far more effectively than the marchers ever could have.

That same year, two other Clones sub-krewes, the Seeds of Decline and the Krewe of C.R.U.D.E., held their own informal march on Mardi Gras itself, in the French Quarter. After Carnival was over that year, the two groups got together, established an official parade date (three Saturdays before Mardi Gras, the old Clones date), and received permission to march in the French Quarter. Thus was born the Krewe du Vieux Carre (the old, French name for the Quarter), now shortened to Krewe du Vieux. The first Captain of Krewe du Vieux was Underwear’s own Craig “Spoons” Johnson.

As a founding sub-krewe of Krewe du Vieux, Underwear is a leader in theme and float creativity, satire, obscenity, and general crazed celebration. Instantly recognizable by the long, red union suits that are the basis of Underwear apparel (not to mention the only underwear ever worn by most krewe members), the Krewe of Underwear takes on political follies, social norms and a large amount of alcohol every year in the best parade in New Orleans, the Krewe du Vieux.

King Cakes, King Cakes, more King Cakes


I remember when I moved to NOLA, only plain King Cakes were sold in a few bakeries, especially McKenzie’s Bakeries around town. No groceries sold them. All King Cakes were plain. These were the dark ages of King Cakes. A number of years later, McKenzie’s introduced the first filled King Cakes, and there was no looking back.  Now, every grocery and bakery in town wouldn’t consider not selling King Cakes- they bring in shoppers.  New Orleanians cannot get enough King Cakes! We live in the enlightened age of King Cakes, with a zillion flavors available to anyone in the world with an internet connection.

To show just how far filled King Cakes have come, here’s the list from Rouse’s Supermarkets current circular of the various fillings and flavors they sell:

Apple Cream Cheese
Bavarian Cream
Blueberry Cream Cheese
Cookies & Cream
Cream Cheese
Heavenly Hash
Pina Colada
Strawberry Cream Cheese

That’s a lot of flavors, and even more exist. Pick a flavor, and someone makes and sells that flavored King Cake!

I conducted an unscientific poll among my facebook, twitter, myspace, and Mardi Gras forum ‘friends’. The overwhelming choice of most for the best King Cake in the metro area is Haydel’s Bakery first and Randazzo’s second.

In the Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. This is known as the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings called a King’s Cake.  In these early cakes, a pea, coin or bean was hidden inside the cake. Now, King Cakes contain a tiny plastic ‘baby’. The person whose piece contains the baby has to throw the next King Cake party. King Cake parties are enjoyed by the young and old all over the region and the world via the internet.

Agreement Reached Between N.O. Mayor, Council Members Over Budget Restores Parade Reviewing Stands


by Mike Hoss / Eyewitness News

Posted on January 5, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 5 at 10:04 PM

NEW ORLEANS — An agreement has been reached between Mayor Ray Nagin and members of the New Orleans City Council to restore some of the funding that had been cut for several city services.

Negotiations have been ongoing on this issue since last month, with officials trying to reach a compromise between the two budgets: the mayor’s budget and the council’s budget. Significant cuts went into effect this week, but around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, all the parties said they had reached an agreement on the 2010 budget with many of the services restored.

Among the services that were restored include blight hearings, as the city tries to get some of the blighted properties back into the market; money for the District Attorney’s Office; juvenile and municipal criminal courts; emergency services; and the parade viewing stands at Gallier Hall for Mardi Gras now has the funding for the city to put them up and take them down.

“I’m happy to say that through our collective discussions with the mayor, and Dr. Hatfield and councilmember Morrell as budget chair, we have restored a number of the cuts that were made that the public wants restored,” Fielkow said.

Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said while they could not restore everything, that’s just the nature of the budget process. “Again, I want to reiterate what our council president said, and what Dr. Hatfield and what the mayor agreed to: we looked at critical issues that had to be restored,” she said.

A four-day work week at City Hall remains in effect. Friday it will stay closed, and its new schedule will stay from Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Just keep in mind that even though we are only open four days a week, our employees are working 35 hours a week,” said Dr. Brenda Hatfield, chief administrative officer. “And so actually the day is extended until 6 o’clock for services, and some people in the community like that.”

So where does the new money come from? It comes from new revenue projections. The mayor had his budget, with the revenue projected at about $462 million, and the City Council was a little lower at $455 million. The compromise for the new budget for 2010 is somewhere around $460 million.

The issue now goes to the City Council on Thursday. They must first vote unanimously to put it on as an emergency agenda item, and then it must be a simple majority vote of the council to pass, once again, the 2010 budget.

My Little Mardi Gras Blog Merges with


Holy Moly!! My little Mardi Gras blog, started as a labor of love to express my love of Carnival, has joined the ranks of the big Mardi Gras web players.’s had 200 million visitors over the last decade. Google ‘Carnival New Orleans’ or ‘New Orleans Carnival’, and comes up a least twice in the top 10 rankings. That brings the Mardi Gras loving hordes to every season. has always been a static site, featuring an elaborate History of Mardi Gras and loads of photos from Mardi Gras past. The photos cover the Mardi Gras spectrum from the bawdy French Quarter to the Barkus dog parade, also in the French Quarter. The content has successfully drawn hordes of visitors, as it is the kind of information that any Mardi Gras enthusiast can use and enjoy.

Go to Top