Marching to a Different Drummer
- story by Karen Fineran
It’s Carnival time again! It’s time to throw on your beads and feathers and pass a good time at some of the many Mardi Gras parades rolling this month in Louisiana and Mississippi.
This year, in addition to going just to the New Orleans “super-krewe” parades and the traditional parades along the Gulf Coast, think about mixing it up a little and trying some of these funky, offbeat and alternative Mardi Gras parades and customs – just a short drive away!
Krewe of Bilge
The Krewe of Bilge is an array of festive decorated boats that float through the Eden Isle Canals with crazily costumed skippers and passengers. It begins at Phil’s Marina Café at 1194 Harbor Drive and ends at the Dock at 118 Harbor View Court. Expect to see some Santa Clauses and Easter bunnies on board, as the theme this year is “Festivals and Holidays.”
Krewe du Vieux
Krewe of 'tit Rex
Inspired by Bacchus, the granddaddy of all “super-krewes,” with its quest for bigger, taller and more elaborate floats, longer marching bands, more expensive throws, and greater spectacles, the Krewe of ‘Tit Rex was founded to counteract that trend.
‘Tit Rex Krewe members pride themselves on having the tiniest, but most elaborately decorated floats that dazzle with their diversity, but there is one rule of float building that they all must follow – only shoeboxes may be used as the foundation of the floats.
The parade is capped at 28 floats, and each float can have up to two “riders” in addition to its maker, who together pull the diminutive floats through the French Quarter streets. In order to keep the crowd’s focus on the imaginative floats rolling by their feet instead of on the “riders’” own costumes, the krewe members all dress simply in black tie and evening gowns, but with identical sashes. This year’s theme? “No Big Deal!"
This year, the wee parade will roll in the Marigny on Saturday, February 18, at 5 p.m. It starts just outside St. Roch Tavern, one block up from St. Claude, then down St. Claude to Music Street, hangs a right over to Franklin, and continues to Royal, then Mandeville, onward to Burgundy, and then up Marigny (with extended drinking stops at several lounges along the way).
The parade winds up (but the raucous party keeps going) at its final destination at the Allways Lounge, at 2240 St. Claude Avenue in the Marigny. Admission to the “Tit Rex Ping Pong Ball” ball is open to all, for just $10 admission!
Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus
This year, in tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, the parade is bound to have Princess Leia lookalikes on the floats - and in the crowd - when it rolls on Saturday, February 18 (in fact, the Krewe already held a parade just in her honor this year, shortly after her passing). The parade's theme this year is "The Revel Alliance."
Krewe of Barkus
In past years, dogs have been dressed up in every crazy or extravagant costume imaginable, like Marie Antoinette, Charlie Chaplin, Lady Gaga, Chinese dragons, jesters, brides, prisoners, motorcycle gangs, or scary animals such as lions and bears. Some people even paint their dogs entirely in Mardi Gras green or purple.
Barkus registration for 2017 is still open, so if you have a cute pup that looks great in Carnival attire or you have a great doggie costume idea, you can go to Barkus.org and register. This year’s theme is “Pirates of the Crescent City: Barkus Tells Tales of Jean LaFleaBag.”
The parade route starts at Armstrong Park and goes up Dumaine to Royal and St. Louis Cathedral, then down St. Peter and Orleans back to Armstrong Park, where the Barkus dogs and their humans can mingle, eat, drink, and have more opportunities to strike a pose and flaunt their style.