Posts tagged French Quarter
I’m in love with my krewe! It’s weird I know, but I know why I love participating in the fabulous, historic Krewe du Vieux. I love the walk through the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny. I adore the donkeys who lead our homemade, highly professional floats. Every float has a New Orleans brass band leading it.The Hot 8 Brass Band was in front of us and for the entire parade they positively lit the street on fire with their incredible 2nd line sound.
What I am attracted to more than any other factor when I parade with my Krewe of Underwear is what happens as I pass the crowd that has gathered to watch the parade. Each person I pass has their eyes on me and wants one of my throws. What happens next is amazing. I gain a tiny amount of energy from that encounter, which occurs time and time again as I pass the crowd and connect with them. The crowd doesn’t feel the loss of energy that I gain over and over and over again. When the parade ends I have a very rare feeling of elation that lasts for a couple of days. Then it fades and I’m back to myself.
The feeling is similar to what a musician feels when he is on stage performing. When he/she connects with the audience, they gain the same bit of energy from throughout the crowd over and over. It’s a fabulous, rare experience that helps keep the Mardi Gras floats full of rider decade after decade.
I’m an Escort for the krewe, which is the perfect role for me. I stay sober for the pre party and parade, and I may have a drink or two at the post parade. This allows me to walk with my float, making sure that no ‘incidents’ occur to our krewe, donkey, band and the crowd. No one is allowed to ‘join’ our krewe for more than a minute or two. No messing with our donkey, and if there is an accident or incident, use your whistle to call for help! I also keep our float where it belongs in the parade, and don’t allow the float to speed up or slow down too much.
Really looking forward to Carnival in New Orleans 2013. It’s the first one I’ve ever experienced without my wife by my side. We were both huge Mardi Gras fans. Fat Tuesday is February 12, which is rather early.
Ash Wednesday is always 46 days before Easter, and Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday. Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25, with the exact date to coincide with the first Sunday after the full moon following a spring equinox! If you’re still confused, get out that calendar with the printed holidays on it- it’s the day before Ash Wednesday!
Nevertheless, it’s 72 days to Fat Tuesday, so here we go!! I’m very excited about my own krewe, KdV, or Krewe du Vieux. I’m in the Krewe of Underwear, and we march January 19, 2013!! Most years when we march it’s quite cold, but a couple of years recently, it’s been really warm. We are the only krewe to march in the historic French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, all our floats are pulled by mules, and only brass bands provide the parade music, with a brass band between each float. KdV is an adult only parade, since we feature very ribald floats. The satire isn’t what the problem is, it’s the vulgarity factor.
The Super Bowl is being played in New Orleans this year, and the game is right during the parade season. Some parades have been moved to the first half of the season. The season is split!!
May march with the Society of Saint Anne in the Marigny. Never have, but I need to change my routine, as my long time partner is not with me.
Under the night sky and perfect weather, the fabulous, one of a kind, historic Krewe du Vieux rolled through the historic Marigny and French Quarter. My Krewe of Underwear, with a donkey pulling the float and a great brass band behind the float, joined the procession as float #6. Our krewe’s theme was “Bayou Beautox.”
Regular Mardi Gras parades in Orleans Parish are banned from the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny since the 1970’s, their big tractors and super floats couldn’t allow emergency vehicles to pass freely around the Quarter.
I’m in a Parade Referee, meaning I’m supposed to stay sober and guard the floats. I keep parade watchers from joining the parade enroute; keep the crowds back while the parade rolls by; and report any medical or dangerous to parade management or police, depending on the situation. I’ve been doing this job for a number of years, and I’ve never had a drink while the parade is rolling and most years I don’t drink at all.
2012 PARADE BRASS BANDS
Baby Boyz Brass Band
Stooges Brass Band
Treme Brass Band
Egg Yolk Jubilee
Hot Eight Brass band
Down and Dirty
The after party was a musical blast! The Brass Band Jam was unbelievable!!
Krewe du Vieux Doo
February 4, 2012
2830 Royal Street
Door opens at 9:00
With close to 1,000 total members, the parade has grown in popularity to the point that a new member can join only when another drops out. It rolled Saturday night through Faubourg Marigny and the French Quarter.
Drips and Discharges‘ 20th anniversary formed a large part of the design for this year’s float, with signs and photos recalling themes of parades past, including “Star Whores” and “Drips and Discharges Are Porn Again.”
For people in an occupation that can often be extremely stressful, the parade provides a creative outlet, subkrewe captain Eileen McKeown said, and a “chance to let our hair down and be a little crazy and forget about it all.”
Krewe du Vieux, now in its 26th year, takes great pride in its uniqueness. It alone, the nonprofit organization boasts on its website, “carries on the old traditions of Carnival celebrations, by using decorated mule-drawn floats with satirical themes, accompanied by costumed revelers dancing in the streets to the sounds of jazzy street musicians.”
This year, under the “Mutha” krewe theme of “Crimes Against Nature,” Drips and Discharges decided to take aim at a German automaker’s appropriation of the Superdome, now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“We thought it was a crime against nature that the Germans own part of New Orleans,” McKeown said of the “Benz Over” theme.
The Dome’s new name came as a surprise to most Orleanians last fall, overnight giving the city’s most famous building a new sign, a new name, a new sponsor and a gigantic light-projected symbol of the foreign automobile manufacturer.
“It’s just business,” said float captain Ellis Chappell, and not entirely unexpected. But nothing is off limits for Krewe du Vieux when it comes to poking fun at the year’s happenings. “If some happy little German company gives you $10 million you go for it,” said Chappell, who, alongside his son Reed, a comic-book artist, spent a week carving a “Superdome with ass cheeks” out of styrofoam for the float.
Chappell said the Drips’ theme meetings are “fueled by pitchers of mojitos,” and the ideas get better with each pitcher.
Krewe members Saturday night wore lederhosen and plastic butt hats and carried staffs topped with the Mercedes-Benz symbol.
McKeown, a physician recruiter, joined Aiken and approximately 30 others in Drips’ 1993 founding march. She said her favorite part of the night is when she hears the opening beats of the brass bands, 19 in total, at the start of the parade. “Your adrenaline starts rolling and never stops,” she said.
Other satirical “Crimes Against Nature” themes included the Krewe of Comatose’s “Dollar General Hospital,” aimed at the leveling of a Mid-City neighborhood for new hospitals; the Krewe of Rue de Bourbon’s “We Are the 1 Percent”; and the Krewe of Underwear’s “Bayou Beautox.”
Also in the lineup were several apocalypse-related themes, including the Krewe of C.R.U.D.E’s (Committee to Revive Urban Decadent Entertainment) “HEY a-POCKY-lypto WAY,” featuring the 2012 Mayan Calendar girls.
I had more fun last night with my krewe than I’ve had since…I last rolled with my krewe a year ago! I’m an Escort, meaning I play the role of Security Guard for my float, along with several other Escorts. Since KdV rolls through Marigny & the Vieux Carre, the streets are narrow and the huge crowds last night had to be kept off the float for most of the parade.
The weather was wonderful and warm, so unlike any other KdV parade I’ve been associated with or watched. This is always a cold weather parade, since it runs very early in the Carnival Season. What a wonderful, unexpected, delightful change!
Get involved in our big local holiday, and JOIN a krewe and RIDE (or walk)!! It is a big part of New Orleans’ identity, and the feeling is indescribable. I like to interact with the crowd, I high five as many spectators as I can, while screaming, “Happy Mardi Gras to you, & you, & you, etc.” I do this for 10 minutes on, 5 minutes off for the entire 2.5 mile route. As we high five, our eyes meet, and I get a small rush of energy. At the end of the parade, you have aggregated so many interactions with parade goers that you feel high, high on life. The world is a way better place during parades.
KdV has unique, themed throws. Each sub krewe has their own sub krewe throw(s); however, any member can produce a limited edition throw and throw it alone or with fellow krewe members. The krewe throw may be a fly swatter, or sticker, or bumper sticker, dreidel, etc. The type of throw may stay the same, but the contents change. The two krewe-wide throws, the cup and wooden nickel, are used every year but dressed up with the new theme.
The crowd last night seemed very special. I was amazed at the high number of coordinated costumes and big time painted faces in the crowd throughout Marigny and French Quarter. There were more people in very nice costumes with superb make up than I’ve ever seen for KdV. I guess it was all the costume parties along the parade route? Otherwise, I cannot explain this phenomena.
A few words about the truly memorable parading music provided by the Krewe of Underwear band, Egg Yolk Jubilee. Here’s a wonderful 2001 video of EYJ with the Emperor of the Universe himself, Ernie K-Doe!! We used EYJ last year, and they were hired back this year.
The fabulous weather had a big effect on the crowd, more Last night, it was 6o degrees at parade time! While dancing my ass off to the fabulous New Orleans Radiators, I sweated to KdV like never before.
When the Rads started after the Brass Band Jam, the KdV party gained traction and moved up a level. The Rads are on their farewell tour and I feel lucky we had them for our party last night. They didn’t disappoint and showed they are leaving at the top of their game after 35 years and 4,500 concerts! They will be sorely missed.
Didn’t make it past the Rads to the more unbelievable Trixie Minx, as I wore out a bit from 9 hours of fun & parade work. Didn’t drink last night, so it wasn’t the alcohol eventually getting me down.
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 1984 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 Krewe perished from infighting.
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.
Yes Krewe de Vieux ran over a week ago, but since I’m in the Krewe, I get to photograph all the floats in the den right before we roll throughout the Marigny & French Quarter. There’s a good shot of Krewe de Vieux King Dr. John on his float with his Queen.