Shangri-La Gives Up the Ghost!!
Sad day indeed when the former mighty Queens of St. Bernard Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Shangri-La, ceases to exist as a parading Krewe!
My family had a real blast during Shangri-La’s heyday in St. Bernard, with over 1,000 Krewe members riding in a huge parade with around 38 units. I’m talking about the mid 1980s, when the Krewe was at their mightiest. By 1982, Shangri-La was the largest woman’s organization in the history of Carnival in New Orleans.
In another Mardi Gras life, I would see around 40 parades per season. I had my own crazy Mardi Gras posse- My wife Meg, her daughter Sharon, Sharon’s friend Tara, Tara’s brothers Hank and Eddie and Eddie’s friend Bruce. We’d go see the parades in New Orleans very early, then hit St. Bernard, or Metairie, which had more parades in the 80s. We’d go to Slidell, the West Bank, anywhere to catch a local parade. We’d catch some parades at the start, some in the middle, and some at the end. Fun, fun, fun was had by all.
We used to watch Shangri-La twice, once on St Bernard Highway, and then on Judge Perez Drive. You catch way more throws that way.
One year I took the Posse out to St. Bernard for the then fabulous Shangri-La. On the way out, the skies opened up and it began to rain cats and dogs. We persevered, as did the parade. It was warm that evening, we were young, and didn’t mind getting soaked to catch a few beads.
The parade crowd dissipated, and the route was almost devoid of any spectators. The krewe noticed we were almost the only folks out watching, and they dumped throws on us to show their appreciation. That is my wettest Mardi Gras Parade story, and I’ll never forget how generous the krewe was that night. It was the most throws we ever caught, and just about the most fun our posse ever had at the parades.
Shangri-La started in 1973 and paraded in Chalmette until 2000, when they moved to uptown to St. Charles Avenue. The krewe started admitting men into their ranks at this time.
St. Bernard was especially hard hit during Hurricane Katrina 5 years ago, receiving almost 25 feet of water, the most in the Metro Area. The population was slow to return, which severely impacted Shangri-La’s membership. Many members returned for the parade from out of town. 2 years ago, the krewe adjusted to the diminished membership by successfully transforming the street parade into a French Quarter carriage parade.
In 2010, a 45 unit parade ushered in Mardi Gras on the eve of Super Bowl 44. This was a very exciting time in New Orleans, and their final French Quarter stroll was fun.
During a July meeting, the Shangri-La Board voted unanimously to become a Social Club and continue their philanthropic plans. After 37 years, the once fabulous Shangri-La Carnival Club ceases parading. They live on the web at Krewe of Shangri-La.