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When Children Reigned

The story of the Krewe of Nor

The first Krewe of Nor parade told “The History of New Orleans” from the discovery of the Mississippi River and up to the 1934 completion of the Shushan (now Lakefront) Airport. This float depicts the “Naming of Louisiana” in 1682, and features French explorer Cavelier De LaSalle, Italian explorer Henri de Tonto of the Iron Hand, a priest and an Indian, perched among palmetto bushes.

 

In 1933, a group of civic-minded New Orleanians decided to start a new Mardi Gras krewe, but with a small twist: all the parading members would be schoolchildren. Sponsored by the Association of Commerce with additional funding from schools and private donors, the Krewe of Nor (New Orleans Romance) debuted in 1934 on the Saturday before Mardi Gras, kicking off the outdoor Carnival festivities with a colorful and lively showing.

The floats were pulled not by the traditional mules, but by teams of costumed schoolboys, and depicted the theme “The History of New Orleans.” With 56 floats and 18 bands, Nor set a record for the largest amount of floats ever to parade by a single Carnival organization.

The King, Queen and court members were randomly selected from names submitted by their schools. The King’s float stopped at City Hall for the traditional toast with Mayor Walmsley (substituting grape juice for champagne), where the young monarch was given the keys to the city. The next stop was the Queen’s viewing stand for a salute to the royal court.

The parade was a big success from the start, with crowds of spectators at each yearly showing through 1941. Subsequent years’ themes included: “The Streets of New Orleans,” “The Vieux Carré” and “The Peoples of New Orleans.”

The 1942-1945 Carnival parades were cancelled due to World War II, but the Krewe of Nor didn’t parade again for some years because of a lack of funds.
Sponsored by the Exchange Club and the City of New Orleans, the 1948 “Songs on Parade” theme featured 35 floats and seven bands, with jeeps rather than children pulling the floats. The 1949 parade shared a similar theme, “Music Hath Charm,” but turned out to be the last appearance of the Krewe of Nor. The City withdrew its funding, and the schoolchildren of New Orleans went back to being spectators instead of parading.

 


 

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