Archive for February, 2014
Took a while to get the Budweiser Clydesdale Mardi Gras schedule this year. The Budweiser web site listed the dates the big beautiful horses would be in the Crescent City, but not which parades or stops they would be participating in. I received an email yesterday containing the schedule, hence this blog entry. I do love these huge beasts of burden and their relationship with New Orleans and Carnival. When the Clydesdales are in a Mardi Gras parade, it’s a bigger event.
More than 300 years ago, this imposing breed was first developed for farm work in the region of Clydesdale, Scotland. They are most easily recognized for their substantial feather — the long hairs of the lower leg that cover the hooves. Despite a dressy appearance, they are capable of pulling a 1-ton load at 5 MPH.
The Budweiser Clydesdales made their first-ever appearance on April 7, 1933. A gift from August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch to their father in celebration of the repeal of Prohibition, the presentation of the original two six-horse hitches of champion Clydesdales moved father, sons and drivers to tears. The phrase “crying in your beer” was officially coined shortly thereafter.
In 1950, the Budweiser Clydesdales received their very own mascot: the Dalmatian. Traditionally used to guide horse-drawn fire carts, this spotted dog serves as friend and companion to the team, sitting aside the driver.
New Orleans Mounted Police Fundraiser, 5 to 9 p.m.
No activities planned
Excalibur Parade, 7 p.m.
Olympia Parade, 6 p.m.
Alla Parade, 12 p.m.
Monday, 2/24 – Thursday, 2/27
No activities planned
Krewe d’Etat parade, 6 p.m.
Endyminion parade, 4:15 p.m.
Bacchus parade, 5:15 p.m.
No activities planned
Argus parade, 10 a.m.
Chewbacchus 2014 marched throughout the Marigny last night, and they looked grand! Here’s a cool set of photos from a friend of mine. Chewbacchus is a top 10 parade for 2014, you can see the rankings here. Enjoy and Happy Mardi Gras!!
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.
These photos are courtesy of Jack Radosta, fellow Underwear Escort for many years. Thanks very much, Jack! This year’s parade and ball were the best ever, and that is saying an awful lot. Happy Mardi Gras!!
Happy Mardi Gras! I say it often, and I’ll say it again- If you are living in New Orleans and you are not a member of a Carnival krewe, you are missing the boat on what is a seminal New Orleans experience.
The very large crowd watching our parade was tricked out in fine costumes. I’ve never seen so many costumes at our parade before. And most of them spent time on their look. Lots of complex face painting on the route and themed costumes were very popular as well. This bodes very well for what has been a dying tradition, costuming. On Fat Tuesday for example, the vast majority of folks on the parade routes are in their street clothes with no face paint. If you go to the Marigny, however, I would estimate that over half the people on the street costume on Fat Tuesday.
Not only was the parade fabulous, but once again the ball after the parade was more than magnificent. The Dumpstaphunk version of the great Mardi Gras Indian funksters, the 101 Runners, was the best Mardi Gras funk show I’ve seen in a very long time. Krewe du Vieux members know how to let their hair down and dance. Last Saturday night in the big concert room of the Trash Palace, 1,000 ball goers danced furiously to 101 Runners, it was an inspiring sight. The stellar band included Ivan Neville, June Yamagishi, and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
A big part of marching with ample throws is the connection with the audience. When parade goers ask for a throw from a krewe member and their eyes meet, a tiny bit of energy flows from the parade watcher to the krewe member. At the end of a long parade, the amount of energy aggregated charges and energizes a krewe member for a couple of days. It’s a subtle but noticeable feeling.
The satirical, adult aspect of the krewe built floats and individual throws of the 17 sub krewes adds a zaniness to the procession. The same is true of the floats, which skewer and laud political, cultural, and social trends and truths with an emphasis on the sexual. The krewe theme, Where the Vile Things Are, was a tribute to Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak, the late great children’s author.
Live music can cast a spell that is palatable. When the big three of live music- the venue, the crowd, and the band all come together, a higher conscientiousness envelopes the room and is shared by the audience and band, which is the nirvana accomplishment of a wildly successful live gig.
The hard core costuming of KdV members, the very cool Trash Palace locale, and the breathtaking Mardi Gras Indian funk led by Ivan Neville and June Yamagishi adds up to the KdV ball improving markedly in 2014. The ball like the parade have been legendary in their effective party atmosphere for decades. They always have the best grass routes parade with a huge focus on historical detail that is endearing to anyone who loves New Orleans, especially the unique culture of New Orleans.
The mule-pulled handmade floats, the brass band only music hiring policy, the hard hitting, ribald satire of the best and worst of New Orleans in the floats are all from another era. The mother krewe puts out a yearly theme, and the dozen and a half sub krewes interpret that theme in their own artistic way in their own float and throws.
The weather played a big role. It was picture perfect sunny in the mid 50s when the sun went down and the venue’s lack of heat didn’t color the crowd’s reaction and make lots of people leave early from the cold.
The two most important parades of the last decade are Muses and Krewe du Vieux. These two processions have excited the public and the media like no others. Of course KdV is far older than a decade, but it’s reputation has grown exponentially over this time period. Muses is a standard parade while KdV is an alternative parade. Still they share a lot of great parade qualities. Both parades march to the beat of their own drummer, not anyone elses.
I’m an Escort for Krewe of Underwear. That position works with my drinking plan for the day. I don’t drink during the pre parade party nor during the parade. If you don’t drink for the parade, you should be an Escort.
I have a few drinks at the ball, where I let what’s left of my hair down. I always costume seriously for KdV. Generally I wear a version of my Fat Tuesday outfit, which is purple, green and gold (pgg). I generally wear a tunic, hat, mask, and cape, all pgg.