During our first three Carnival seasons after moving to New Orleans, by the time Fat Tuesday arrived, we were too pooped to party beyond a brief amble out to the corner for a couple of the morning parades while sipping Irish coffee. Living just off of St. Charles Avenue a few steps away from the parade route means weeks on end of floats, marching bands, dancing in the streets, King Cakes, marching and dancing krewes, lots of imbibing, costumes and almost daily open houses in our home and the home’s of friends.
While I understand the desire many New Orleanians have to flee to the mountains or some other preferred, non-Carnival-celebrating locale — especially the week and weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday — we love being in the center of the action. It’s a lot even for seasoned Carnival professionals, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thankfully, we’ve learned to better moderate our celebration schedule and for the past three years, we’ve participated in the early-morning Society of Saint Anne parade held in the Marigny neighborhood in an unofficial krewe created by some dear friends. Our merry band of revelers is a little disorganized, a lot unruly and, to be honest, a bunch of animals. No really, we dress in wildlife-themed costumes and are called Krewe du Zoo.
Our debut year included a pre-party at a friend’s house near lineup, booze-fueled dance party during said lineup and a post-parade, rock blocker-blasting, balloon arch-bedecked procession from the friend’s house to the Golden Lantern bar in the French Quarter to hold an animal prom. During the parade and while processing through the Quarter in punny costumes including my husband’s Elvis-inspired King Bee, my Polar Beary Antoinette and an Attention Hog (dressed as a pig in a ‘70s-style prom dress with a sash), we doled out handmade critter-themed corsages and boutonnieres to Mardi Gras revelers donning their own creature creations. Each flora and fauna wrist accessory or pin doubled as an invitation to the prom and included the time and location of the impending dance party. To our delight, countless invitees joined us to boogie down in front of the bar and snap prom pics under the balloon arch.
As you might expect when dealing with all creatures great and small, year after year, our roving animal kingdom is fruitful and multiplies. At such a rapid rate of procreation, perhaps it will someday morph into an official krewe, with the prom transforming into a sanctioned Mardi Gras event. Regardless, we’re grateful that our friends created something so magical that we were forced to figure out a way to conserve energy and join in the fun of converging upon the Marigny and French Quarter on Fat Tuesday to shed our workaday lives and act like party animals.