Posts tagged Alla
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.
When I was younger and my wife was by my side, I took my family during Carnival season to a lot of parades annually. We are talking around 40 parades per season, and we saw many twice. We were as wild a bunch of parade goers as ever was, and we loved every moment of that lifestyle. We gathered up our kids and the neighborhood kids and off we went, to the Orleans parish parades first, and in those days, we went to Hayne Boulevard, Freret Street, Claiborne Avenue, Downtown, Uptown, Mid City, Metairie, the West Bank, Slidell, the North Shore, and anywhere else a Mardi Gras rolled in the Metro area.
Now to talk about Metairie parades, they kind of suck these days, but Alla and Caesar will never suck; they remain really good parades in all aspects. What has happened is sad, but Metairie parades have been fading in quality for a while now. Not enough bands, not enough masking and costuming by float riders. That is now, but back then, when Metairie had very good parades, they were lots of fun and very worthwhile to attend. I remember how large Thor and Mardi Gras (now gone) was, they were captained by a father-son team, who also were float builders.
I had a resume company in Metairie, my only Jefferson job. This was when the Louisiana oil patch was doing poorly, and I learned a little about a lot of jobs. My office was right on Veterans near Bonnabel, and we would go out their to hang out during parades, have our own bathroom, and brought all sorts of delectable foods to snack on. I remember catching like a zillion cups during a Thor parade years ago.
Jefferson Parish officials fined a number of Metairie krewes because of lack of bands and not masking or costuming. $6,000 worth of fines have been assessed, more than four times the 2012 amount. The Jefferson Truck parade was charged $2,500 and the other truck parade, Elks Jeffersonians, was charged $1,800. Thor was hit with a $900 fine, Atlas $500, and Adonis $200. 2013 was the first year the Jefferson truck parades were subject to the costuming/masking requirements. They didn’t do well, did they?
Jefferson Parish officials are thinking about adding a second route. The only route for many years was down Veterans to Bonnabel Avenue, turnaround on Bonnabel, back to Veterans Boulevard to Severn Avenue, down Severn, then turn around on Severn to Veterans, then down Veterans to the end. We used to see the parade twice as it turned around on Bonnabel, running back and forth across the neutral ground to catch each float twice!
So what will happen to the Metairie Mardi Gras parades? That chapter hasn’t been fully written yet. Several krewes aren’t happy with the Veterans route, and are thinking of Metairie Road. The problem with Metairie Road is it is narrow with no neutral grounds and few sidewalks. Still, it’s a beautiful area with a good bit of shade trees (many nice oaks) despite all the shopping that has been built over the last few decades. Like Veterans, behind the stores are homes, homes, and more homes.
Since April, Blaine Kern Sr, Carnival legend and founder of Mardi Gras World, was heading down the slippery slope of foreclosure. Blaine Sr has been embroiled in a nasty law suit with his son, Barry Kern.
As readers of this blog already know, I always preach one axiom when discussing this case- never sue your parents, it won’t work out in the long run no matter what you believe at the time. This is a time honored axiom that can’t be overcome or changed.
When the first Super Parade was born in 1967 with Bacchus, who was the float builder who made Captain Augie Perez’s dreams come true? Blaine Kern Sr. He’s been the float builder of record for Rex, Orpheus, Endymion, Muses, Bacchus, Alla, and Caesar, all the Super Krewes of note in recent Carnival history
Blaine sought national accounts, and landed Disneyland and MGM as major clients, among other big businesses. He’s represented the great traditions of Mardi Gras in the best New Orleans tradition of service and quality. I personally helped grow it (Mardi Gras) into a billion-dollar industry, says 85-year-old Blaine Kern, nicknamed “Mr. Mardi Gras”. I’ve been doing this for 74 years.
The Algiers Point house he bought with his fourth wife, Holly Brown-Kern, is slated for the auction block in two months, according to a foreclosure notice filed this week by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office.
The notice lists a May 3 auction date for the Abalon Court property in the Algiers Riverpoint subdivision. Whitney Bank sued Kern in January over a $283,849 debt on the house, which the couple bought five years ago for $290,000, according to public records.
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
The past year has seen a few upheavals in the topsy turvy world of Carnival. Blaine Kern Sr was knocked out of action by his son in the Louisiana Court of Appeals, you can thank Sr’s new bride for much of Mr Mardi Gras’ problems.
It doesn’t appear that any of the Kern’s major Mardi Gras float building accounts have moved on. Rex, Bacchus, Orpheus, Muses, Alla, Endymion are all built by Kern enterprises for decades.
Jefferson Parish began the slow process of upgrading their parades. This is a very good idea, as their parades had slid considerably since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
For 2012, Gretna loses their most historic Mardi Gras Day parade, Grela, the West Bank’s only local celebration on Fat Tuesday.
Gretna stopped funding Mardi Gras in April when officials had to choose between paying for Mardi Gras activities and giving money to the Gretna Heritage Festival.
Yes, Gretna Fest has grown into a really nice festival, but Grela is Jefferson Parish’s oldest Carnival krewe. Gretna Fest has a huge budget with the dozens of bands that play the several day festival. They have corporate funding, charge a cover charge to enter the Festival, and sell a lot of food, drinks, and beer. They certainly could have covered the $30,000 much much easier than Grela could, and this is an obvious fact the Council should have seen a mile off.
Therefore, a Carnival Jeer goes out to the Gretna City Council for backing the total wrong horse with this poor decision in April 2011. The krewe was founded in 1947 as a men’s club, but it changed its name to Grela, an acronym for Gretna, La.
Earlier this year Rhea, another Jefferson Parish krewe, called it quits. Rhea was formed in 1969, making this parade over 40 years old! It began as an all woman parade, but became coed in later years. Rhea was the first Jefferson parade to roll down Veterans Boulevard, and the one of the few Jefferson parades to hold their ball in the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans.
One relatively new, local, and all male marching group, the 610 Stompers, marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Wow! The Stompers’ over the top dance routines flabbergasted Matt Lauer and Al Roker, it was a real New Orleans moment in New York City on national TV. They also appeared on the Hoda & Kathie Lee Show. That’s a lot of national attention for our homegrown group, and it’s well deserved!
From whereyat.com’s article on the Stompers-
What makes these men so special is not only their uncanny ability to entertain crowds, but also the motivation behind the uniforms. What started as a plan to start an all male dance school to help pay for their Saints season tickets in their namesake section 610, has turned into an incredible medium to have fun while help others. Underneath those mustaches of manliness lie men with hearts larger than most. Since their formation in 2009, the 610 Stompers have raised and donated over $100,000 to charity. They were asked to be this year’s “Corporate Chair” of the Light the Night Walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Louisiana and Mississippi, released a Stomp Out Breast Cancer video with Touro Infirmary, and have partnered with over 13 local and national foundations where their dance moves have helped those less fortunate. They have mastered having fun with making a difference. At this year’s 610 Ball they gave $610 to each of over 20 local charities, which at first glance doesn’t seem like a lot. However, these grants more often doubled the charities’ operating budgets making a profound impact on our citizens and local community.
The first new full-fledged Carnival parade in Orleans Parish since before Hurricane Katrina, Nyx won approval from the City Council on a 6-0 vote to amend the 2012 calendar and schedule Nyx after the Druids parade on the Uptown route the Wednesday before Mardi Gras.
The city’s last new parading krewe was Morpheus in 2002, a year after Muses and the Knights of Chaos made their debuts.
From their web site:
“Three native New Orleans women always loved the traditions, pageantry, and fun of Mardi Gras. For years they admired the floats and loved the bands. They enjoyed how much the kids’ faces would light up when they caught stuffed or beaded treasures. The women adored how the crowds screamed to the riders “Throw me something!”
2012 forecast will continue with part 3 in the near future.