Passing Parades: A Guide For Those Who Can't See Them All

The Second Week

Brace yourself, this is when Carnival starts to take over life as we know it. This period will not last long, but it will be pervasive. Here are some picks:

 

Wednesday, February 3,
St. Charles route. 6:30 p.m.

Krewe of Ancient Druids

       I like this parade, which is an old style procession populated by people who are active in other carnival clubs. It gives them a chance to participate without have to administrate. All of the riders wear sullen-faced Druids masks. The sometimes satirical theme can get a little touchy, but satire without a barb really isn’t very satirical.     

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St. Charles route. 6:45 p.m.

Krewe of Nyx

       This all female group is easily one of carnival’s fastest growing krewes. Having started partially to help fulfill those waiting on Muses’ list, the krewe in the past year helped create another female parade, Pandora, this one in Jefferson parish. Sometimes krewes grow too fast to keep up with the quality of their floats. There is no reason for Nyx to be in a hurry, it has already become a major player. The krewe’s themed throw is a decorated purse. That should match well with a Muses shoe.


Thursday, February 4,
St. Charles route. 5:45 p.m.

Knights Of Babylon

       This is one of my favorites, an old style parade that has not lost its integrity. Babylon’s floats are smaller than that of most parades but that is the way floats used to be. Look for King Sargon leading a parade that is usually built around a literary theme.

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St. Charles route. 6:15 pm

Knights of Chaos

       Born in the tradition of the former Momus parade, which was known for its satire, this parade continues that legacy even using the same floats and design. Forget about the beads and look for the humor delivered in signs and decorations alongside the floats. Momus first paraded in 1872. Chaos carries the torch.

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St. Charles route. 6:30 p.m.

Krewe of Muses

       This all female krewe has been a major influence on the modern Mardi Gras by opening new riding opportunities to women. The parade is fun to watch with lots of interesting marching groups. The theme is usually a satire, but the visual fun is in the mix of bands and groups between the floats. Muses' signature float theme is that of female's high heel shoes and that theme has been carried through on the krewe's signature throw. Items tossed are quite innovative. This is definitely one to see.


Friday, February 5 
St. Charles route. 6:00 p.m.

Krewe of Hermes

       This is easily one of Carnival’s prettiest parades, built in the tradition of the old style parades but with dazzling lighting and float design. Don’t be distracted by bead catching, look at this parade for its lighting and theme development. It is one of Carnival’s visual treats.

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St. Charles route. 6:30 p.m.

Le Krewe d’Etat

       Celebrating the 20th anniversary since its founding, Le Krewe is one of the bad boys of Carnival staging an impishly satirical parade but doing that with some of the best design elements of all satirical padres. No one does satire quite like this  group, which is headed not by a King but a Dictator. Other elements include a banana wagon and the krewe's own corps of dancing darlings. (Guys will be guys.) Look closely at the humor on the floats, with some of the best zingers placed at the float’s back end. There is a lot to behold, and to laugh at.


Saturday, February 6
St. Charles route. 11 a.m.

Krewe of Iris

       Iris is, by far, the senior surviving all female krewe; its parade is the centerpiece of the Saturday before Mardi Gras. There are lots of floats and usually a good mix of bands.

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St. Charles route. Noon

Krewe of Tucks

       What started out long ago as a mostly college kid parade named after a college bar still reflects that spirit in the krewe that we call the Animal House of parades. It is a carefree, casual parade with lots of spoofs and satire. There’s nothing fancy here but there is lots of fun.

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Canal Street route. 4:15 p.m.

Krewe of Endymion

       Brace yourself for this, the New Orleans Mardi Gras’, and possibly the world’s biggest Carnival parade. There will be 3,100 riders packed into tandem floats – which this year will celebrate Endymion’s 50th parade. Each year the krewe introduces something new and this year it will be the Superdome float, which depicts the stadium as a giant nightclub – which it is when Endymion holds its post-parade extravaganza there. Endymion is the only parade that still has Canal Street as its major path. Its passing is more than a parade but an urban festival. Take in the spectacle, but don’t be in a hurry.


Sunday, February 7 
St. Charles route. 11 a.m.

Krewe of Okeanos

       Full disclosure – as I write this, I am wearing an Okeanos cap. It was given to me by a friend who belongs to a couple of krewes. The cap says simply “Okeanos 1949” for the year it was founded. The cap, like the parade, is not flashy but certainly speaks of the survival of this post-war group, which always stages a reliable parade. It is a good, sentimental opening to a busy day to follow. I will cherish the cap.

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St. Charles route. 11:45 a.m.

Krewe of Mid-City

       This is high among my favorite parades. It is a one-of-a-kind parade decorated with colorful foils that dazzle and dance to the sunlight. The krewe-owned floats are all original, reflecting a theme that shows off the colors. It is not a big parade but it is an excellent one. I wish more krewes would follow this model. Try to see it where there is lots of sunlight so the foils can be at their visual best.

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St. Charles route. Noon

Krewe of Thoth

       This is one of Carnival’s most popular krewes – not only made so by being a long time uptown tradition, but also because its serpentine route that takes it past various care institutions. Built around an Egyptian theme Thoth, in recent years, has grown as rapidly as the Nile at flood stage. It is a well-run parade that caps off the Sunday afternoon.

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St. Charles route. 5:15 p.m.

Bacchus

       Bacchus’s impact on the New Orleans Mardi Gras is enormous. Starting in 1969, it was the first of the super krewes, defined not just by the number of riders, but by having large, original themed floats. Such a krewe is big in size and bigger yet in promise. Celebrity king Anthony Mackie will be competing with another native, Peyton Manning, who at the same time will be leading his krewe in the Super Bowl. Both Bacchus and the NFL are masters at drawing a crowd. Go to the parade; watch the game in reruns.

For related blog


Lundi Gras 
St. Charles route, 5:15 p.m.

Proteus

       This, the oldest night parade, has staged a march, with some interruptions, since 1882. If you are a student of the New Orleans Mardi Gras this is a great parade to see. It is a classic old line parade with original floats depicting scenes from an esoteric theme. I always urge people to see Proteus not just for the fun of it but as historic preservation.

(One sad note: A riderless horse at the lead of the parade will symbolically honor the memory of long-time captain Beau Bassich, who died last summer.)

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St. Charles route, 5:15 p.m.

Orpheus.

       This krewe, following Proteus, makes a grand combination. Orpheus is a new era superkrewe yet it borrows some of the design details of the ancient old-line krewes. What emerges is a visually spectacular krewe that combines the best of two eras. Look for Orpheus' signature floats such as the Smoky Mary and Leviathan, but it is the theme floats, with thousands of paper flowers, that deliver on the beauty.


Mardi Gras 
St. Charles route, 8 a.m.

Zulu

       Celebrating the 100th anniversary on its incorporation this primarily black krewe will need special watching this year. There have been hints that the krewe has upgraded some of its floats. Even as was, Zulu has always bean a fun parade with its top-heavy hierarchy including a Witch Doctor, King and Mayor. Zulu is certainly an awakening experience for the day ahead.

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St. Charles route, 10 a.m.

Rex

       Leave it to the King of Carnival to stage a march that best typifies what a true New Orleans Mardi Gras parade should be. You will not see shoddy masking or poor float design in this parade that takes seriously its responsibility to set the standard in excellence. This year, Rex celebrates some of the great gardens of the world, a list that proudly includes the Botanical Garden in City Park (Float No. 23). Like a beautiful garden, Rex is a combination of elegance and great visual planning. Its gift to the city is a thoughtful bouquet.

 

SUPERLATIVES

Most Beautiful Parade

(In alphabetical order)

Hermes

Mid-City

Orpheus

Proteus

Rex

 

Wittiest Parades

(In alphabetical order)

Chaos

Druids

Le Krewe d'Etat

Muses

Tucks

 

Best Date to Remember

February 28

Mardi Gras 2017

 

 

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BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s new book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), has been released. It is now available at local bookstores and at book web sites.

 

 

 

Categories: Carnival Coverage, Mardi Gras, The Editor’s Room