Mardi Gras is not just a day but a whole season in the Big Easy. Even on the other side of the state where I grew up we had heard about the fabulous New Orleans Mardi Gras. Like I mentioned before, I am from a small town, the kind of town where our Mardi Gras consisted of a trail ride, chicken chasing and a gumbo and dance at the Catholic Hall. A one day event.
Imagine how thrilled I was to attend my first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade and know this was only the beginning a two week plus extravaganza of parades and parties. I was lucky because I had hard-core native New Orleanians to show me the ropes (and the ladders) of parade going NOLA style. Over the years I have done the balcony suite on Bourbon, reviewing stand on St. Charles, and fought the crowds on Canal with the best of them. What I hadn’t done was the Krewe du Vieux parade. Well, I can now check that off my “to du” list.
The full name for this Krazy Krewe is the Krewe du Vieux Carre. The parade starts out in the Marigny and makes its way through the Vieux Carre or French Quarter. It is one of the first parades of the New Orleans Mardi Gras season. This walking parade uses mule or human drawn handmade floats as well as showcasing a large number of New Orleans’ best marching bands. It is noted for wild satirical and adult topics, nothing is off limits, everyone is fair game and it is definitely not one for the kids. Just to give you an idea, in 2006, less than six months after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Krewe du Vieux was the first Mardi Gras parade to come through the streets of New Orleans. The theme that year was “C’est Levee”. I mean just take a look at their mission statement:
Krewe du Vieux Mission
The Krewe du Vieux is a non-profit organization dedicated to the historical and traditional concept of a Mardi Gras parade as a venue for individual creative expression and satirical comment. It is unique among all Mardi Gras parades in the city because it alone carries on the old traditions of Carnival celebrations, by using decorated mule-drawn floats with satirical themes, accompanied by costumed revelers dancing in the streets to the sounds of jazzy street musicians. We believe in exposing the world to the true nature of Mardi Gras—and in exposing ourselves to the world.
By Sharon Denise Talbot