Posts tagged Carnival New Orleans
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!!
Meg was my Mardi Gras soul mate, we went parading from the mid 70s for the next 35 years and really had a blast decade after decade. I was very fortunate that she was a kid magnet and we would take our kids and the neighborhood kids on Mardi Gras parade excursions night after night during the season. In the late 70s, we crashed the CAC’s Krewe of Clones.
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 original1984 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’.
For several years in the mid 1980s, we had our own float in the Tucks parade. We paid the Krewe $500 cash and rented a stake bed truck and built our our cheapo float and invited all our twenty or so out of town Carnival visitors and all the neighborhood children to participate in the parade down Napoleon Avenue and down historic St. Charles Avenue on a Saturday afternoon during Mardi Gras. See the photo immediately below. I drove most of the with some help, and Meg rode on the truck and in the cab with me. We had an amazing time!
This is a very good thing, after a wild year when the Gretna City Council backed the wrong horse (Gretna Fest) instead of their own historic parade. Now, all is forgiven, and the Krewe of Grela, after a year of sitting on the sidelines, will be returning to the streets of Gretna with 22 floats and 10 truck floats for a total of 700+ riders.
Jefferson Parish’s oldest Carnival organization, the krewe was founded in 1947 as a men’s club, but it changed its name to Grela, an acronym for Gretna, La.
Grela missed the 2012 season, the first time in decades that city didn’t have a single parade. Once the parade was gone, the city elders realized that losing the only parade on Fat Tuesday wasn’t in the best interests of Gretna.
It fact, it is a big quality of life issue, and the Gretna City Council passed a new ordinance that allows barbecuing, tents, etc. along the parade for the first time in years.
Mardi Gras backer and council member Belinda Constant allocated $40,000 from her discretionary fund to aid Grela, stating that the parade isn’t just a single event, but a quality parade enhances the stature of the city.
From my vantage point, it’s an economic development issue as well. When folks tailgate in earnest for Mardi Gras day events they purchase beer, grilling materials, meal fixings souvenirs from the parade vendors, etc. I’m very glad the Gretna council came to their senses over this issue. Gretna historically has had a nice Fat Tuesday parade, and I’m glad it’s back!
The just passed Carnival season was warm, with very little cold weather. It was the warmest season in long time. Next year Mardi Gras comes earlier, on February 12. That means the legendary Krewe du Vieux rolls January 19, 2013. That’s mighty early. I can’t wait!!
The warm weather helped to loosen up the masses, and the crowds were large uptown, downtown, by the Mississippi and the lake. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is very, very unique, like other Carnival celebrations around the globe.
Lots of celebrities showed up to have some fun: Will Farrell (filming a movie locally), Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis, Mariska Hargitay, Bret Michaels, Patricia Clarkson, Maroon 5, Hillary Swank, and Harry Connick Jr, among others had a blast at the 2012 New Orleans Mardi Gras.
Zulu, REX, the trucks and Parade of St. Anne are just the big names in the truly million public and private events and parties in New Orleans on a Mardi Gras Day. Talk to any convenience store owner in any part of town and they wish every day was Fat Tuesday!! I noticed a smaller store in my neighborhood had more than half their stock sold on Tuesday.
There are many zenith points on Fat Tuesday. The French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny are one major zenith. When Zulu and Rex roll, that’s another zenith or two. All the Mardi Gras Indian Gangs, both uptown and downtown, are a big big zenith.
All around town, there are mini zeniths too numerous to count. Add all these little ones up, and you have the biggest zenith of all- the neighborhood combined zenith!
Throws are changing. Since the 1960s, the doubloon was king. Beads were much shorter and lighter, and glass beads from Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) were more plentiful. They were the most sought-after throw for decades. In the 1980s, the Giacona Container Company pioneered the logo, full color cup. Now, Giacona sells the krewes Green Cups. One of their big Mardi Gras clients is the School of Design, aka REX, King of Carnival.
For 2012, beads were longer and heavier than ever before. Many lay on the parade route; people are looking for more unique throws. Short beads along with longer beads were the domain of the truck parades. A pack of 12 beads weighs a ton compared to the bead packs of the past. If you get hit in the head by a pack of the modern beads, it can hurt you seriously.
After a wild final weekend, the big day is here!! Get out there and enjoy the zillion events, the weather is perfect.
I know a lot of folks who avoid Zulu, Rex and the trucks. It seems to me that Krewe of St. Anne in the Marigny is more popular than ever. My friends are flocking to the informal costume oriented event.
Others hang with the historic Mardi Gras Indians, from downtown to uptown. I remember the year of the police strike – I spent some time with the Wild Tchoupitoulas when Chief Jolly, Norman Bell, and the Neville Brothers were in the group. I remember sharing a joint with Aaron Neville that day. It was really enjoyable.
The Back Street Museum is a popular destination on Mardi Gras Day.
I’ve always been a parade person, but I may, someday soon, join one of the many walking parades and experience Mardi Gras Day this way. Time will only tell.
Once again, Happy Mardi to all- however you experience it- have a ball!! I hope to see YOU at the Mardi Gras!!