Mardi Gras Around the World Series
Mardi Gras festivities are open to families, offering the perfect alternative. Celebrating Mardi Gras since 1874, Pensacolians host four parades every year featuring masked characters, fun throws and elaborate floats that sail along the area’s beaches. And, with temperatures typically in the mid 60s, there is plenty of Florida sunshine to go around.
This Mardi Gras season, visitors and locals are invited to attend the newest parade in the Pensacola Bay Area – the Mardi Gras March Off. On Jan. 21, more than 30,000 people are expected to hit the streets of downtown Pensacola for not only an extremely competitive marching band contest, but also to break the Guinness World Record for largest line dance.
This new family-friendly parade, created by Pensacola Mardi Gras Inc., will bring nine high school marching bands to Pensacola to show off their musical talents in the heart of downtown. After the bands march down Palafox Street, they will stop in a designated performance area to perform for professional adjudicators who will score them on their sound, look and crowd appeal for a chance to win more than $10,000 in prizes. Among the marching bands will be 25 of Pensacola’s best-decorated Mardi Gras floats and krewes tossing great throws and having a great time.
Around 3 p.m., the parade will come to a temporary halt as the crowd attempts to break the current world record for largest line dance. The record is currently held by Atlanta, where 17,500 people have participated in one massive line dance.
If you happen to miss the march off, be sure to attend the Mardi Gras Mall Ball at Cordova Mall on Jan. 28. On this night, the mall will be completely transformed into a massive ballroom, as attendees enjoy live music, delicious snacks from local restaurants and a silent auction in each wing. This annual bash is hosted by the Krewe of Les Petits Enfants (the order of the small children) and has generated more than $2 million in proceeds to the kids at Sacred Heart Hospital. This event is for the 21 and older crowd – sorry kids!
So, grab the family and head downtown to be a part of the first-ever Mardi Gras March Off and a record-breaking line dance, or put on your gowns and tuxes, and enjoy a night of festivities, music and treats at the annual Mall Ball.
- Wind Creek 12th Night Mardi Gras Kick Off Celebration. Jan. 6. At 7 p.m., join Pensacola Mardi Gras crews and their kings and queens for a big celebration and locally made king cakes. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Mardi Gras Marching Madness Parade. Jan. 21. Beginning at 2 p.m., enjoy the sounds of marching bands as they parade downtown, stopping at the corner of Garden Street and Palafox Place to perform for judges. Bands will be competing to win more than $10,000 in prizes. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Cordova Mall Ball. Jan. 28. This annual bash hosted by the Krewe of Les Petits Enfants (the order of the small children) benefits the kids at Sacred Heart Hospital. Cordova Mall is transformed into a ballroom at this event open to the public. Tickets are $50. (850) 416-4660, www.sacred-heart.org/mallball
- Mardi Gras Boat Parade Flotilla. Feb. 4. Join the Pirates of Lost Treasure at 10:30 a.m. on Perdido Key as the Mardi Gras Flotilla makes its way from Hub Stacey to the Perdido Key Oyster Bar and back to the Flora-Bama for live music, a best-decorated boat contest and happening after-party. Free admission. (850) 492-4660, www.visitperdido.com
- Mardi Gras Kid and Kritter Krawl. Feb. 11. Bring your children and favorite four-legged friends out to Pensacola Beach for a lively walking parade. Free Admission. (850) 932-1500, www.pensacolabeachchamber.com
- Snowbird’s Mardi Gras Lunch. Feb. 15. Snowbirds are invited to enjoy a breakfast of coffee and beinets or a lunch of red beans and rice at Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola. Registration is required. Free admission. (850) 434-1234, www.visitpensacola.com/snowbirds
- Mardi Gras Downtown Illuminated Parade. Feb. 17. Starting at 8 p.m., admire the gorgeous lighted floats as they make their way down Palafox Place and through historic downtown Pensacola. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Pensacola Downtown Grand Parade. Feb. 18. With most of the area’s krewes participating, you won’t want to miss the largest, and most popular, parade in downtown Pensacola beginning at 2 p.m. For even more fun, follow the masked characters down to Seville Quarter for a festive after-party. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
- Pensacola Beach Mardi Gras Parade. Feb. 19. Starting at 2 p.m., line the streets, dip your toes in the sand and listen to the waves crash on the beach behind you as this parade cruises along Via De Luna Drive on Pensacola Beach. Free admission. (850) 438-1500, www.pensacolabeachchamber.com
- Fat Tuesday Priscus Procession. Feb. 21. Revelers of all ages enjoy the last parade of the Mardi Gras season before lent begins. Located on Palafox and Government Streets. Free admission. www.pensacolamardigras.com
LSU didn’t show up for their game, a real shame, but that’s the way the football bounces. We are left with our record setting New Orleans Saints, now heading to San Francisco, California to face the 49ers for round 2 Saturday, January 14 @ 3:30 pm CST. Hopefully, both teams will show up and our Saints will win!!
King cake season is upon us and you can buy a decent king cake around the metro area at every grocery, bakery, and most pharmacies and convenience stores. There are plenty of personal and cupcake size king cakes available.
I’ve been in touch with my Krewe du Vieux, on krewe matters most important, since we roll February 4th. I sure love being part of a bigger part of Mardi Gras than just my extremely popular Mardi Gras Blog.
It’s still possible to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Mardi Gras parades. It’s not easy, but it can be done. When parading down St. Charles avenue, convention rules, since the New Orleans City Council creates the rules for major parades. If you want to parade and do your own thing, that’s more than possible though it’s a ton of work; hence Krewe du Vieux, ‘tit REX, Krewe of St. Anne, Krewe of Chewbaccus, etc. Most of these are in the Bywater, 7th ward, or Marigny. Most roll on Fat Tuesday, and most are really fabulous. Kolossos is headquartered in and will march in Marigny and Bywater.
The spanking new Krewe of Kolossos is seeking to “create a new breed of parade,” utilizing tradition while drawing on ideas of environmental sustainability and reuse, art director Steven Donnelly said.
The idea for the krewe came from a partnership with grand marshal-elect Karina Nathan, the artist a.k.a. Katrina Brees. Donnelly’s drum cart creation, a mobile performance art drum show and Nathan’s Bearded Oysters, an all female marching and social group. Both share a love of a good party, and Kolossos was formed with this in mind.
The krewe has around 200 members. While the membership is open, the majority of members are artists, including sculptors, costumiers, performance artists, etc.
‘Tit Rex changed its name to ‘Tit Rəx, inverting their ‘e’. What is ‘tit Rəx? The World’s First Mardi Gras Microkrewe, Social Aid & Pleasure Club…. and Live Miniature Parade. ‘Tit stands for Petite Rəx, since they have all miniature floats and throws.
The reason for the name change was continued interference from the mighty King of Carnival, the School of Design’s Krewe of REX. Somehow, someway, in REX’s infinite wisdom, they consider ‘tit Rəx to be an infringement of their REX copyright. I think they are mixing apples and oranges. REX offered them a ten year deal for $5.00/year, but ‘tit Rəx rejected the deal because of potentially restrictive clauses about the size and nature of the ‘tit Rəx parade.
They march on Poland Avenue at 5:30 pm on February 11. 2012 theme- Napoleon Avenue Complex. Rex parades on Fat Tuesday, February 21 at 10 am on the uptown route, starting from their dens on Claiborne Avenue at 2nd Street.
The local newspaper has run a little king cake contest this week, and three of the five ‘winners’ have the same last name!
Randazzo, Randazzo, Randazzo, Haydel’s and Sucre made the cut when the votes were tallied. This creates the impression the contest is sponsored by Randazzo’s. I doubt it was, but the impression is real.
In a former Mardi Gras life, I wrote a series of columns ranking king cakes in the New Orleans metro area. I bought a lot of king cakes in those days, as I saw many Metairie, West Bank and New Orleans East parades back then and picked up the cakes while I was there.
Was it a legitimate ranking? Probably not, but I bought each cake I talked about. Less stores sold them in those days, and McKenzie’s was the 600 pound king cake gorilla. They had the first filled king cakes for sale. Back then, the supermarkets and pharmacies and convenience stores didn’t sell king cakes. Only bakeries had them.
Back to the TP’s contest. All the Randazzo locations seem different, though some claim online that their recipe is the family’s. They have their own web sites and Face Book pages. There’s Randazzo’s Camellia City in Slidell, Manny Randazzo King Cakes in Metairie, and Nonna Randazzo Bakeries in Chalmette and Covington.
I had trouble finding any price for a picked up king cake at any of the Randazzo’s web sites. All included shipping that I could find.
To the contest’s credit, five other reader nominated bakeries in the poll were listed as ‘wildcard’ choices. They received at least 300 votes each. These wonderful bakers are Dianne’s King Cakes in Harahan, Gambino’s Bakery in Gretna and Metairie, La Dolce Nola, Metairie, Rouse’s Supermarkets all over town, and Tastee Donuts‘ McKenzie’s around town.
King cakes are HUGE in New Orleans. From January 6 until Mardi Gras Day, February 21, 2012- All this time is king cake time!! NOLA King cakes feature more sugar than most.
Historically, king cakes have been around Europe for centuries before New Orleans was settled. We had plain king cakes for a long long time in NOLA. Then McKenzie’s Bakeries started filling their king cakes, and charged like $9.95 for a medium filled one. This was back in late 1970s as I recall.
Pretty soon, filled king cakes had created a whole new king cake economic model, based on a more expensive king cake. Then the mail order model was created, and hundreds of thousands of king cakes are shipped worldwide. Haydel’s sells 60,000 king cakes, and that’s how they survive as a top bakery in 2012.
Who makes the best filled and unfilled king cakes in the NOLA metro area? There are a lot of entrants, since the shipping/local markets have exploded over the last three decades.
http://bit.ly/emh7cl is a King Cakes of the World article I found while researching this post. The blog is entitled- A Malaysian in France.
In the Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. This is known as the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings called a King’s Cake. In these early cakes, a pea, coin or bean was hidden inside the cake. Now, King Cakes contain a tiny plastic ‘baby’. The person whose piece contains the baby has to throw the next King Cake party. King Cake parties are enjoyed by the young and old all over the region and the world via the internet.
World’s simplest cheese cake!!
I came up with this recipe as an undergraduate at Cornell University, and gave it to my roommate, Kenny R. I then proceeded to lose the recipe, only to get it back from Kenny years later. Since then, I’ve made this delicious, creamy cheese cake for numerous Mardi Gras events, and it never fails to get eaten!
19 oz cream cheese
1 c sugar
3 eggs, added 1 at a time
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla
Pour into a 9″ graham cracker crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, let cool and ENJOY!!
David Eyre’s Pancake!!
A favorite recipe of my family for dozens of years, got this from a friend from Cornell. YUM!! We generally double the recipe.
1/2 c flour
1/2 c milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
large pinch nutmeg
4 T butter
2 T confectioners suger
juice from 1/2 lemon or lime
Mix flour, milk, eggs, & nutmeg. Beat lightly, leaving a few lumps. Melt butter in 12″ skillet with heatproof handle. Pour batter into skillet in 425 oven. Cook 15 minutes (or less) until pancake is golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and lemon juice and serve.
Celebration in the Oaks Preview Party at City Park was a huge success for the event and us. We had a blast and accomplished all our pre show goals. Ate some amazing food, and tee totaled the giant booze giveaway no problem. I was much fresher when we ran out of andouille and smoked sausage after 2 hours. The 2011 version of Celebration in the Oaks looked fantastic, and the “it’s snowing!” oak tree was really the best new attraction I saw.
This chocolate cake recipe is an extension of my mother’s one pan easy chocolate cake. I add more baking chocolate and more chocolate bit topping, and I call this version Decadent Chocolate Cake. I’ve been making it for25+ years this way.
DECADENT CHOCOLATE CAKE
I use a Corning Ware glass covered pan, 9 3/4″ x 9 3/4″.
Mix together 1/3 c oil, 1 egg, 1 1/4 c flour, 1 c sugar, 3 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (melted 1 minute at a time in the microwave), 1 t vanilla, 1 t baking soda, 1/2 t salt, and 3/4 c water. Mix with a fork until mostly smooth. Sprinkle 1 c semi sweet chocolate bits over the top, covering the entire surface. I use Mexican vanilla and mini chocolate bits all the time. The little bits provide better coverage since there is so many more of them in 1 cup.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until done (stick toothpick in pan center away from any chocolate bits and if it comes out clean, it’s done), cover with glass top immediately after removing from oven.
HUMMUS favorite recipe for a long time. Great for making in advance and serving during parades. Add seasoning to taste and enjoy!
Ingredients- 1 c cooked chick peas, 1 c tahini, 2 T oil, juice of 2 lemons, 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced, salt & pepper to taste, chopped parsley.
Mash chick peas in blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients except parsley. Blend until smooth. Garnish with parsley.
I’m in the music biz for decades now, but also dabble in the food arts. I represent some fine well known Louisiana sausage and andouille at some of the really big food and booze benefit shows in NOLA. Just finished up Friday with the Celebration in the Oaks Preview Party in New Orleans in City Park. It’s a huge benefit for City Park. Several thousand folks with good sense pay $100 each for a lot of liquor and super food sampling. We had some great live bands also. We also do the Grand Tastings of NOWFE, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, which is one day and one evening event. The quality and quantity of attendees, food, liquor and music quality is just fantastic. The locales- Superdome floor, Morial Convention Center, City Park, etc, are just as wonderful.
The Celebration in the Oaks Preview Party takes place in the Christmas decorated portions of the park around the amusement area and the Conservatory. The light set ups are just so pretty and unique, and they add a few new special light set ups annually.
Mardi Gras Favorite Recipes
These recipes are time tested from dozens of years of Mardi Gras usage.
I generally cook somewhat big for Fat Tuesday. That means hot food, BBQ, sushi, high quality deli meats and breads for sandwiches. I always do some combo of really delicious food. I generally bake some Mandel Brot for the big day, and give a loaf or two away, since this dessert makes three loafs at a time.
Mandel Brot (Bread) Recipe – Makes 3 loafs , recipe from my late Mom, Frances Joseph Eidler. Been eating this and making it my whole life.
Definition: Mandelbrot, which literally means almond (mandel) bread (brot), was a popular dessert among Eastern European Jews.
Mandelbrot is similar to Italian biscotti. Perhaps Jews first tasted biscotti in Italy, and then brought the recipe to Eastern Europe and renamed it mandelbrot.
It is likely that Eastern European Jews fell in love with mandelbrot because it made the perfect Sabbath dessert. Since mandelbrot is made with oil (not butter), it was easy to store. And since mandelbrot is pareve, it could be served after festive meat meals.
In a large bowl, add 1 cup sugar, then mix 3 eggs, one at a time, until all are mixed in. Add 1 cup of oil without much flavor of its own like Canola, etc and mix well. Then add a cup of flour (I use unbleached white) and mix well, then another cup of flour, then add 1 t vanilla (I use Mexican vanilla all the time), 1/2 t salt, and 1 t baking powder. Then add another cup of flour, mix well. Add 1 cup of raisins or currants. I use golden raisins a lot of the time. Add 1 cup of mini semi sweet chocolate bits. Get pure semi sweet chocolate bits only! Then add 1/2 cup of flour until the dough is quite stiff and almost makes a ball but not quite.
On a ungreased cookie sheet, separate the dough into three equal sections, and form into loafs, about 1 inch tall and 9 inches long. The dough will settle upon heating a bit, so make the loafs slightly taller by pushing the sides in with both hands until the loafs are no more than 3 inches wide.
Cook at 350 for 35-45 minutes until the loafs start cracking and brown on top, then take out and slice into 1/2 inch slices while still very hot. You can only slice them easily immediately after taking them out of the oven.
Here’s someone else’s picture of someone else’s mandel brot.
Meg Pomeroy Eidler’s Potato Salad
Slice up and boil 3 lbs of potatoes until done, then either peel or not, depending on taste. We usually peel 1/2 and leave peel on the rest. We use Russets or Idahos or little red potatoes. The more uniform the cutting, the more uniform the potato cooking.
Saute 1/2 cup of well chopped onions, also food process or hand chop another 1/2 cup until the pieces are quite small, and chop well 1/2 bunch of fresh scallions well. Add to potatoes with mayo and mustard, salt and pepper to taste. We use Hellman’s Mayo for sure, and the light version is OK.
I grew up on another type of potato salad with vinegar instead of mustard. I gave that up when I moved to NOLA in the mid 1970s. I may try that one sometime in the near future again.
More Mardi Gras favorite recipes to follow soon.
Sno-Balls aren’t exactly the usual Carnival issues and events I write about, but Sno-Balls and Mardi Gras are certainly cut from the same cloth! Plus, I had a huge urge to cover this emerging story. New Orleans, there’s no place on earth like it.
A group of vendors that sell New Orleans-style shaved ice are suing a manufacturer of sno-ball machine parts in federal court for alleged racketeering and fraud.
Plum Street Snoballs, Raggs Supply, Special T Ice Co., Parasol Flavors, Simeon Inc., Southern Snow MFG and Snow Ingredients are suing SnoWizard Inc. and Ronald Sciortino in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
New Orleans attorney Mark Andrews filed the suit June 24.
The suit alleges that SnoWizard violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by gaming market prices and fraudulently claiming patents on the ice-shaving machine’s components parts.
SnoWizard is “trying to assert and establish bogus intellectual property rights – all traceable to the fundamental falsehood that SnoWizard invented … the whole “industry” – and that everybody else is just a copying, infringing pirate.”
The suit references litigation from 1984 in which SnoWizard sued Eiseman Products, claiming a patent on a wide array of snoball related products. A federal judge ruled against SnoWizard and the decision was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1986.
The suit states that the “whole SnoWizard ice-shaving machine was never patented. SnoWizard’s first owner filed a patent that was denied in 1942 and the prominent ‘patent pending’ on the door of the ice-shaving machine after 1942 was a false marking.”
The false patents also extend to a door hinge, the machine’s leg design and several custom flavors like “King Cake,” “Cajun Red Hot” and “Buttered Popcorn.”
The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment “of the invalidity and un-enforceability of Defendant SnoWizard’s purported trademark rights.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
King Cake Extravaganza: A fundraiser to benefit the St. Alphonsus Art and Cultural Center will feature tasting of more than 20 king cakes from local bakeries, with champagne, coffee and light appetizers, on Jan. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the “cornstalk fence” house at 1448 Fourth St. Donation is $100 per per person.
The huge legion of Mardi Gras devotees and New Orleans food aficionados are jumping for joy now that the Hubig Pie Company, through their Twitter account, let it be known last week that a new improved individual King Cake was forthcoming for the 2011 Carnival Season!
NOLA foodies and Carnival lovers sat up and salivated. Before you could say Savory Simon, #hubigswatch was trending locally.
However, company spokesperson Drew Ramsey said, the new king cake still needs refining.
It’s going to be a little fluffy cinnamon king cake,” Ramsey said, not a fried pie. “With icing. But when it comes to our wrapper, our wrapper breathes. That’s unacceptable. And people want to see the king cake. There was a miscommunication between the wrapper and the icing.”
Ramsey said the new confection will be “reasonably priced” and it will not contain a baby.
“Watch your local convenience stores,” he said.
2010 Mardi Gras Parade Review: Who Dat Nation meets Mardi Gras!
2010 was among the most unique Mardi Gras on record. As Twelfth Night passed, the 2010 Carnival Season began and the Saints wound their way through the NFL playoffs. It became a real possibility that our local pro football team might end up in the Big Game. As it happened, the Saints WON Super Bowl XLIV 30-17, during Carnival 2010, handily beating the favored Indianapolis Colts, led by favorite athletic son Peyton Manning.
Meanwhile, a very important Mayor’s election occurred the day before the Super Bowl, and favorite son Mitch Landrieu received 67% of the vote, and avoided the usual runoff when all the candidates get below 50%. 67% is huge win by any stretch of the imagination. So the Super Bowl win occurred during Carnival, and the new Mayor was voted in a landslide, which rarely occurs in the fractured politics of New Orleans. Landrieu is the first white Mayor of New Orleans since his father in the 1970s.
The crowd on St. Charles for Bacchus and several other parades now rivals the Fat Tuesday crowd. Okeanos, Mid-City and Thoth all roll around late morning-early afternoon. Bacchus rolls at 5:15, and easily takes three hours to pass, ending around 8:30 pm. Minimal time on St. Charles, assuming all parades are attended, is 9 hours. Mardi Gras Day on St. Charles ends after the trucks pass, around 3 pm. Rex passes around 11 am. Total time parading on St. Charles above Jackson is 4-5 hours. Below Jackson add Zulu to the total hours, now 6.5 hours. Fat Tuesday, the culmination of the Carnival Season, always has been the big day for parades. Now, Bacchus Sunday is far longer. The consolidation of neighborhood parade routes plus the desire of Krewes to roll on the weekend has caused this.
2010 saw inclement weather shift the parade schedule. Chaos cancelled, Babylon became a day parade, and Muses followed three other parades. Rescheduling means most of a parade’s bands can’t make it. Other parades changed days, changed starting times, and one canceled because of the Super Bowl.
Another less positive parade trend came to the fore during Carnival 2010- parades passing in under 2 hours! One major parade will all its units passed in under one hour! Up to last year, parades almost always took a leisurely three hours on average. What’s the rush? If a parade has rescheduled, up to half the parade’s units may be lost, shortening a parade accordingly.
Many float riders don’t keep their masks on. This trend has been creeping into Mardi Gras for several years. Of course the ‘rules’ say masking is mandatory but who enforces that kind for rule in the make believe Carnival world? While many of the secretive krewes keep their masks on, other krewes, including the Super Krewe Bacchus, have many unmasked riders.
There was a nationally televised Super Bowl Victory Parade for the Saints, carried live on CNN, ESPN, and all local network affiliates, also occurring during Carnival. Good Morning America shot from New Orleans before the Super Bowl. The French Quarter erupted into a Mardi Gras Day sized party, this time a Black & Gold party, immediately after the Championship win over Minnesota in the Superdome, and after the Super Bowl victory. The Saints Players interacted with the crowd to a much larger extent than in Mardi Gras parades. Many folks who attended the Saints Super Bowl Parade say it was the greatest parade experience of their lives. It created a giant traffic jam as tens of thousands of the Who Dat Nation from all over the region clogged the ferries & highways, attempting to reach the parade. Many in the traffic jam never made it, turning around after sitting in traffic for a couple of hours.
All throughout the Mardi Gras Season, including Fat Tuesday, Black & Gold Saints Gear & Costumes were worn to an incredible extent. People who never costume wore extensive Saints Gear & Black/Gold Costumes. Tons of black & gold fleur de lis beads, black & gold footballs & beads, I Believe hand towels, etc. were tossed off the floats. By the time the Saints made it to the Super Bowl, all the Mardi Gras stores were long out of Saints stuff.
Another Saints related parade took place during Carnival 2010-A large number of men paraded in dresses to honor the late Buddy Diliberto’s pledge to wear one if the New Orleans Saints made it to the Super Bowl.
No review of Carnival 2010 would be complete without a salute to the Who Dat Nation! Who is the Who Dat Nation? Any enthusiastic Saints fan. Who Dat has been the rallying cry of the Saints for years. Taken from a line in a popular local Saints tune, Who Dat Say Gonna Beat Dem Saints? Who Dat? Who Dat? The national media picked up the over the top frenzy that Saints fans feel about their now winning team. During Good Morning America’s coverage of the Super Bowl, they did a split screen with a group of fans in each team’s city. The contrast between the wild, black & gold Who Dat Nation fans from New Orleans, jumping in the air and dancing with Kermit Ruffins playing in the forefront, next to the staid, laid back Indianapolis fans, was startling. Super Bowl XLIV was the highest rated TV program ever. Why was this game so popular? The obvious reason is the Who Dat Nation grew beyond the Superdome, beyond the New Orleans region into a national/international Football phenomena the scale of which only became apparent when the TV ratings for the Super Bowl came in. The top rated TV program ever means the Who Dat Nation may be the biggest NFL fan club ever!
More important than the top TV show ever is the unseen and unexpected effect the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Who Dat Nation, and the New Orleans election had on the national and international persona of New Orleans. 4 1/2 years post Katrina, the Crescent City was seen as a dangerous, needy, unique American City, and many visitors stayed away. The triple whammies of 9/11, Katrina/Rita, plus the recession had forced the tourist business on life support.
The positive PR from the incredible media coverage changed the image of New Orleans from Katrina ‘losers’ with our hands perpetually out, to magnanimous, safe, fun loving winners! The Who Dat Nation had corrected the Katrina Curse and righted NOLA’s reputation. This is a complex equation involving American Public Opinion, no easy thing to influence. The fact is, no one predicted this opinion shift, it couldn’t be forecast, all the right factors came together unexpectedly. God Bless America!
REX– The throw world is very competitive. Krewes strive to come up a novel throw each year. Rex is not immune to these pressures, as they have expanded their throws considerably in quality and quantity over the last few years. They threw two sizes of three colors of Rex Lieutenant Plush- purple, green & gold dolls- all high quality, like all their plush. They threw two sizes of plush white boeuf gras, a giant plush crown, and a nice purple, green & gold REX kerchief.
Rex is a Super Krewe that runs on cotton wagon chassis with wooden wheels from the 19th century.
Rex also threw a heavy gold replica of their original doubloon, to celebrate their role in bringing the doubloon to Mardi Gras. 50 years ago, Alvin Sharpe approached the Rex Captain and showed him the first prototype for a mass produced doubloon. The Captain was concerned about the risk to parade attendees when showered with doubloons. Sharpe took a handful of prototypes and threw at the Rex Captain. He was of course unhurt and that closed the deal for Mr. Alvin Sharpe.
Rex also played the green card. Each Rex cup has the recycling symbol, plus reuse, recycle, degradable and giacona.com. According to giacona.com, the degradable cups have plastic resin additive allows microbes to ingest and break down in landfill. Made in USA – lower carbon footprint than imported products. Made of FDA Approved material. In the opinion of this blog, this is a serious step up for Rex and the green movement within the Carnival World. Rex had another green claim, this one not nearly as serious a green step. The Rex beads’ strings are degradable also. When Rex beads get stuck in a tree, now the sunlight will degrade the string, and all the beads will fall to the street. Where are degradable beads?
Zulu– Zulu ran on time for the first time in memory, and moved so briskly down Jackson Avenue it was amazing. Zulu is a one of kind parade with great bands like the U.S. Marine Marching Band & St. Augustine Marching 100, plus great groups like the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses. They have the original handmade throw, the famed Zulu Coconut.
Proteus– Proteus entered the modern age of throws with its first Light Up Bead, a jelly like seahorse containing three red LED lights. The floats were build on cotton wagon wooden chassis with wooden wheels, very similar to the chassis REX rolls on. Royal Artists builds Proteus in the old fashioned way, giving them a look of Carnival long ago. The flambeaux are the original model, also from the 19th Century. Proteus had some of the finest looking floats of the season.
Orpheus- Orpheus had its leader, Harry Connick, Jr. on his float this year, since the Saints won the Super Bowl he’s been in New Orleans. Super Bowl Champ Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton had his own float in Orpheus. We caught a 2.5 inch 2010 Snooks Eaglin Doubloon from a Orpheus Officer. Orpheus floats are brashy, very large, with a number of annual super floats- three part Leviathan Dragon, Trojan Horse, six part Smokey Mary Train and more. Orpheus doesn’t lack for music, as the krewe was co-founded by NOLA born Harry Connick, Jr.
Bacchus– Bacchus is the original Super Krewe, the first to feature major Celebrity Kings, the first with multi-unit floats, etc. Their annual Super floats- Kong Series, Bacchusauras, & Baccawoppa, etc. are icon Super Floats and the model for Super Floats all over Carnival parades.
Thoth– Thoth used the same green cup base as Rex with their own design and get the same credit for going green with a throw that’s abundant. From the unfinished Thoth web site: because it designs its parade route to pass in front of 14 institutions that care for persons with disabilities and illnesses, the men of Thoth have become known as the “Krewe of the Shut Ins”. Thoth spends their money on throws, as they go past all those institutions before turning on St. Charles and joining the traditional route. This is Thoth’s 63 Anniversary and one of the larger krewes with over 1,200 members.
Mid-City- Known for the brightly colored aluminum foil Mid-City uses to cover its floats, Mid-City was formed in 1933 and is the fifth oldest continuously parading krewe. 2010 was sunny, so the foil floats were shown to their best effect. Mid-City holds a band contest among bands that parade with them. For 2010, we counted six Memphis, Tennessee High School Marching Bands in Mid-City, which we found very interesting. All those buses, accommodations, and feeding necessary for that many teenagers is quite a logistics job, aside from running a major Mardi Gras parade and ball. My Mardi Gras hat is tipped to the Krewe of Mid-City for getting all those Memphis kids down here and back.
Okeanos– Okeanos had a very big crowd this year, as part of the huge Bacchus Sunday on St. Charles Avenue. They usually start off Sunday, but were preceded this year by the Knights of Babylon, who moved to Sunday after inclement weather moved them from their original date of Thursday, February 11. Okeanos is another old krewe, this is their 60th year of parading.
Babylon- Babylon is designed by the fabulous Henri Schindler, who preserves the old paper mache float building techniques from long ago. Babylon was founded in 1939 and has expanded its throw repertoire substantially- they threw Babylon backpacks, jester heads & hats, and a Light Up bead as well. This krewe lost a good number of bands because of scheduling problems due to their original date rain out. Babylon is a night parade lighted by flambeaux that ran in bright sunshine, obviously without their flambeaux.
Endymion- Endymion is the biggest of all Mardi Gras Krewes with over 2,400 members. Endymion does it just a little bit better than everyone else. Endymion didn’t have the Saints Quarterback or Coach, but the Saints Owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle as Grand Marshalls. Endymion is the only parade that rolls through Mid City and down Canal Street. The crowds for Endymion are positively huge. Endymion has some annual special Super Floats, such as Captain Eddie’s SS Endymion Steamboat. The Budweiser Clydesdale Horses and The St. Augustine Purple Knights were featured in the parade, along with more than two dozen other Marching Bands.
Tucks– Tucks was formed by a few college students a few decades ago, and they have never lost their sophomoric potty humor- their King sits atop a giant toilet! One of their most popular throws each year is a small toilet that squirts water. Tucks is the only krewe to throw toilet paper with their logo on each sheet. Their Friar Tuck stuffed dolls (as opposed to ‘plush’ dolls) remain an icon Tucks throw and they always throw wooden nickels. Tucks is a satirical krewe that loves to tell City Government where to shove it when they are wrong. Tucks had Panorama Jazz Band, Sue Ford’s Pink Slip and their own marching groups like the Ducks of Dixieland, a cool Star Wars group, foam Dragons ensemble, and much more.
Iris- Iris is the oldest all female krewe in New Orleans, as they formed in 1917, but didn’t parade until 1959. It’s a fairly large krewe, with around 800+ riders. Iris allows some men to ride on their floats, which is OK with me! Iris is a generous krewe who puts some money into their costumes. There used to be Venus, another Orleans parading women’s krewe, and there used to be Shangri-La, another large female from St. Bernard Parish that ended up on St. Charles Avenue before ending their big parade, and morphing into a French Quarter Buggy parade. That leaves Iris and Muses as the only female krewes still parading down St. Charles.
Muses- Muses didn’t disappoint in 2010, their 10th anniversary, tossing their usual unbelievable assortment of throws with their logo on them. Here’s very close to a complete list of Krewe 2010 throws: Shoe Bracelet, Muses Ivy Bead, Seed Glass Beads, Shoe Bead, Strobe Theme Bead, Shoe Necklace, Disco Ball Necklace, Flashlight Bottle Opener, Historic Shoe Bead, Acrylic Light Up Shoe Necklace, Diamond Ring, Puffy Key Ring, Muses 10 Ball, Sleep Mask, Glitter Frisbee, Can Koozie, Glitter Heart Tattoo, Leather Rhinestone Bracelet, Re-Usable Tote Bag, Plush Cupid Arrow, Muses Plush Assortment, Cloisonne Doubloon, Patterned Bead Bag, Mini Patterned Bead Bag.
Name another krewe that throws half that much stuff with their logo on it. Muses sells nothing to their membership without their ‘M’ on it. Muses has several signature floats, including The Shoe, The Sirens, and The Bathtub. The only all female nighttime parading organization, their feminine influence is obvious throughout the parade. Since Muses had to reschedule due to bad weather, some of their many bands couldn’t accompany them. Muses is one of the largest krewes to parade down St. Charles Avenue, with more than 1,000 members.
Muses sets the standard with wacko marching groups (except for KdV) with such groups as The Pussy Footers, Muff-a-Lottas, 610 Stompers, and Camel Toe Lady Steppers.
Morpheus– Morpheus is a krewe on the move. Over the last few years, Morpheus has grown from a small krewe to a mid-sized krewe, and in this economy post Katrina that is not an easy thing to do. Krewe dissolution and parade cancellation seems to occur more often.
D’Etat– D’tat has been around 15 years, and in that time they have carved themselves a niche in storied Mardi Gras Krewe History. They won Throw of the Year Honors from us last year for their functional Super Throw, the large, full color lenticular cup. They are as secretive as the older Krewes. Their ‘King’ is called ‘Dictator’ and that’s one identity they never reveal.
D’Etat was also one of the very first krewes to toss a D’Etat Light Up Bead from their floats. Now those Beads are positively the hottest type of bead on the market. Even the old line Krewe Proteus threw a Light Up Bead in 2010. The Budweiser Clydesdale Horses paraded with D’Etat this year. They also host very good NOLA area High School Marching Bands, including St. Augustine and Brother Martin.
D’Etat also skewered the crap out of outgoing Mayor, soon to be garbageman Ray Nagin, an admitted very easy target. Virtually all the satirical krewes had to lob some major shots at such a broad target as the goodby-in-under- 70 days Nagin.
Hermes- I have always like Hermes, they are an old line krewe which began parading in 1937. Hermes now is the oldest continuously parading nighttime parade. They have modern throws, such as Light Up Beads and Plush. Hermes owns some very nice floats. A mid sized krewe with over 600 members, Hermes really surprised with the best looking floats I’ve seen from Hermes in many a year.
Druids- The Ancient Druids started parading in 1998. There was an earlier Druids Krewe, that parading after REX from 1922-1935. They are a very secretive organization who calls their King Archdruid. You have to be a member of another Carnival organization if you want to join Druids. They don’t have a ball, only their parade. There’s no other royalty chosen, the Archdruid is it. Druids is the only krewe to parade alone during the week. They are not interested in growing their membership; it’s limited to 200, which isn’t big in the world of Carnival krewes.
King Arthur– Their King and Queen are King Arthur and Queen Guenevere. They started out as a West Bank parade, before moving to the traditional St. Charles route. King Arthur threw black & gold Super Bowl doubloons, though I didn’t see any while watching this parade. They had some very good bands, including St. Augustine Marching Knights and Warren Easton High School.
Carrollton- One of the oldest parading krewes, organization began in 1924. They had some problems right before WWII and stopped parading until 1947, when they resumed. Carrollton used to parade in the Carrollton neighborhood, changed to a downtown route before ending up on St. Charles Avenue, using the traditional route. Historically, they were the first krewe to use tractors to pull the floats instead of mules. Carrollton helped the first Metairie parade, Krewe of Zeus, to organize. This year Carrollton had some of the best weather of the entire Carnival season. They had several notable bands, including Jesuit & Brother Martin High School.
Pygmalion- Pygmalion moved from Friday night to Saturday morning. The St. Augustine Marching Knights led off this krewe in style this year and the Warren Easton High School Band was very good also. Pygmalion began in 2000, and is a coed krewe. Arnie Fielkow, just elected New Orleans Councilman at Large in the first primary, was also General Manager of the New Orleans Saints. He’s a better Councilman by far than he was General Manager of the Saints. It wasn’t until he moved over the the Council and Mickey Loomis took for a few years that the Saints won the Lombardi Trophy by winning the Super Bowl.
Sparta- The Knights of Sparta made certain changes to their parade that surprised me. No flambeaux, when they have always used flambeaux for their night parades. The King’s Float is mule drawn, but the mule had trouble keeping up with incredible pace of the floats. The bands had to practically run to keep up. We saw the entire parade, soup to nuts, in way under 1 hour, easily a world’s record in the fastest Mardi Gras parade. Sparta began as a Ball only krewe in 1951 and began parading in Orleans Parish in 1981. On the positive side, Sparta had more than double the number of bands this year than last year, which is very encouraging.
Ponchartrain- Now in its 35th year, Pontchartrain began parading near Lake Ponchartrain before moving uptown in 1991. This year the parade featured the cream of local all girl marching bands, Xavier Prep and St. Mary’s Academy. The krewe features both men and women. I remember when the krewe used to march in the lake front area, they had a giant paper mache Crawfish float that was named Mr. Mudbug, as I recall.
Oshun- Oshun was founded in 1997. The year after Hurricane Katrina, Oshun didn’t parade. The wonderful singer Charmaine Neville was the Oshun Celebrity Grand Marshal for 2010. This krewe honors Oshun, a goddess of a religion practiced by descendants of West African Yoruba slaves in Brazil, Haiti and Cuba.