When I pull up to the pale yellow Zulu Headquarters on Broad Street and before I even exit my car, Andrew P. Sanchez Jr. is holding the door of the club wide open for me, his matching yellow blazer and black-and-yellow striped bowtie gleaming in the sun. It is quickly apparent that the 2015 Zulu King has a gregarious personality and likes to make the people around him feel comfortable.
Sanchez’s father is the late Andrew Pete Sanchez, who served as property management director under former Mayor Moon Landrieu and was one of the first blacks to be appointed to lead a city department. A community center in the Lower 9th Ward was named after him, but it was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina’s floods. It is scheduled to reopen soon. Sanchez Jr. currently wears many hats; has worked in sales, marketing and consulting in several capacities; and still champions the revitalization of the 9th Ward.
Like many past Zulu Kings and members, being involved in the organization runs in the family. Sanchez Sr., besides being Zulu’s Big Shot in 1977, served as the club’s Chairman of Carnival Activities, as Sanchez Jr. has for the past 10 years of his 18-year involvement with Zulu. Other family members involved in Zulu includes siblings, cousins, daughters, nieces and uncles. Besides his role of Chairman of Carnival Activities, Sanchez Jr. seems to have served in virtually every other capacity of the organization. Being King seems a natural progression for him.
Q: What are some of the Zulu traditions you most look forward to?
One of my favorites is watching the King be saluted on Mardi Gras morning by the Soulful Warriors. It’s a tradition that a lot of the members don’t get to participate in because they’re getting ready for the parade that morning, but it’s a tradition that’s very beautiful. To see the King get ready to get into the limo and come out to the parade on Mardi Gras morning and to see the Soulful Warriors salute the King, I think that’s a big tribute and a quiet highlight in the Mardi Gras season.
Q: And what are your favorite Carnival traditions in general?
My campaign theme (while running for King) was “saluting all that is Carnival.” I chose the theme because there are traditions that take place in Zulu that are very exciting. We begin our Mardi Gras season with a church service, where we come together and have a lot of sincerity about being blessed to go through the Mardi Gras season safely. From there we have the Queen’s arrival, and there’s a tradition when we receive the Queen and officially announce the Queen of that year. And that evening it culminates with the King and Queen party. That’s where we more or less introduce the organization to the King and Queen and to society, because our friends and family are guests at this event. From there we … have different parties and events and the members come out and pay tribute to our characters. When you look back on Ash Wednesday, it seems like a blur.
I think about all the people who have helped make the Zulu organization what it is. … we are right now a revitalized organization. Since Katrina, our organization average age is anywhere between 35 to maybe 55, whereas before Katrina we were an older club. So when I look at having an election theme saluting all that’s Carnival … I look at how over the years we’ve transformed Mardi Gras into this beautiful time of the year. Normally everyone’s excited about the holidays, but in New Orleans we’re almost happy to get the holiday season over so we can get into Mardi Gras – such as with Zulu.
It’s really been, for me, an exciting time. When you’ve had a chance to work with the organization and all of these guys on the wall [the Zulu club walls feature photos of past Kings] I’ve assisted and prepared them to be King. And now I get a chance to stand with them.
Q: Growing up as a child in New Orleans, what are your memories of Carnival?
When I reflect back on being a child, my dad, Andrew P. Sanchez Sr., served as Zulu’s Chairman of Carnival Activities. I always looked forward to when my dad went to the ball; I used to always love to see my dad get dressed up in a tuxedo. Then the time came for me to attend the ball.
As a child we always went to the parades; we’d get a chance to see Bacchus, Endymion. As a child your eyes light up and you’re jumping around for all those throws and at the end of the day you think, now what am I gonna do with all this stuff? But it’s the excitement, it’s the fun, it’s the thrill. When I reflect back on all the years I’ve been here in this beautiful city I’m excited, because I’ve enjoyed it ever since being a child.
Age: 56 Profession: Project manager and consultant Born/raised/resides: Lower 9th Ward Education: Alfred Lawless High School, John McDonogh 35 High School, Southern University Favorite Band: Earth Wind and Fire Favorite Restaurant: Acme Oyster House in Metairie Food: Seafood Book: Harry Potter series
I love to swim. I don’t get to swim as much as I’d like to, but the Andrew P. Sanchez Multi-Purpose Center is about to re-open and it will have a pool, and I’ll really get back into swimming.