Marching to a Different Drummer
Carnival and Creativity go hand-in-hand - especially in these five very different sorts of Mardi Gras parades. They're all within easy driving distance from the Mississippi coast and make for a fun-filled day trip!
- story by Karen Fineran
Krewe of Bilge
Over in St. Tammany Parish, a unique parade to attend, especially for the boat lovers, is the Krewe of Bilge in Slidell on Saturday, February 11.
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
In New Orleans, dozens of krewes parade around town during Carnival season, often several on the same day. One of the first is the satirical and scathingly funny Krewe du Vieux, held in the French Quarter this year on Saturday, February 11. The parade's theme this is is "The Crass Menagerie," fitting right in with former years that have focused on adult themes and political comedy.
Krewe of 'tit Rex
A lesser-known, but charming and eccentric parade, is the Krewe of ‘tit Rex, which claims to be the world’s first “MicroKrewe,” rolling only miniature floats the size of shoeboxes. The word ‘tit’ in this case is based on the Cajun diminutive, an abbreviation of the French word “petite” that is often used in front of a person’s name.
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
In the New Orleans Bywater neighborhood, the Krewe of Chewbacchus is dedicated to and parodies Sci-Fi and fantasy films (including the Star Wars film character Chewbacca).
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
Founded in 1993 and now a greatly anticipated event for dog lovers each year, the Mystic Krewe of Barkus is the only Mardi Gras krewe in New Orleans for the canine population and their humans. The Barkus Krewe members will trot, stroll, roll, and wag out in style on Sunday, February 19 at 2 p.m. in the French Quarter.
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.