The Kinski Karnival Krewe
The official name of this rollicking group is the Komic Kurt Kinski Karnival Krewe & Karrying On Klub. Founding member and Bay historian Pat Murphy reveals the club's origins 46 years ago and hints at its future.
- by Pat Murphy, photos courtesy of the Kinski Krewe and Ellis Anderson
On the drive home from Gulfport that night the topic of staying close in the future resurfaced and talk of some type of social club began to swirl. Before arriving back in Bay St. Louis it had already been decided to christen the loosely conceived social organization with the name Kinski.
The idea centered around bringing old friends together at least once or twice per year for social events. While this group was never in need of an excuse to party, they felt that this organization would be a way to make sure it happened. The party, quite simply, had to go on.
Over the next several months there were additional meetings held to come up with some operational rules for this loose-knit organization. These meetings were held mostly around parents’ dining room tables and included a few more friends interested in being involved as things progressed.
Eventually the original group was christened the "grandfathers" of Kinski. This group of "grandfathers" included Pat Murphy, Wayne Fillingame, Ronnie Genin, Michael P. Larroux, Michael Reeves, Lee J. Hayden, David Adams, Steve Benvenutti, Jimmy Wagner, Mac Hadden, John Heath and Rory MacDowell.
Shortly before the end of 1971, the opportunity arose to ride on a Mardi Gras float in the Pass Christian parade. David Adams' father, Howard already belonged to a group that was participating in this parade every year. Howard offered to sell the Kinski group a dilapidated old float that was laying around behind the florist's greenhouses. For the modest purchase price of $25 Kinski bought the old float from Howard and the Kinski krewe was rolling just like that.
Well, not quite, because with Pat Murphy's father pulling the float in a pickup, the tongue of the float broke off in the middle of the 1972 parade and the ride had to be completed in the back of the pickup truck. However, a marvelous time was had by all and a decision was made that this parade was to be the annual event that the Krewe would be centered around.
The following year Kinski held its first "Mardi Gras ball" on the Saturday night before the parade at John Heath's parents’ home (without their knowledge while they were out of town). After about two years the ball was moved to the Friday night before the Pass parade.
The thinking was that this would give the members a full day and night to recuperate from the ball before riding in the Sunday parade. In a somewhat loose coronation ceremony, Pat Murphy was crowned King Klaus I. The reason for his choice will forever remain a secret within the confines of the Kinski organization and its archives.
Each year a new King would be crowned when the court was announced. The King would be decided upon by the King Selection Committee made up of the previous three kings, whose duties also included naming a Queen, Dukes and Maids for the court.
After the King's ride in the current year's parade, he would serve as Kaptain of the Krewe, overseeing the business of the organization until the following year. Prospective new members were only brought up for vote before the organization after they had been accepted and approved in a closed meeting of “grandfathers."
In 1979 Kinski began to have live entertainment for their Mardi Gras Ball. Through the years some stellar entertainment played for the Kinski Balls. Marcia Ball played three or four times as well as Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets, Lil' Queenie & The Percolators, A Train, Zachary Richard and John Mooney & Bluesiana to name but a few.
The Kinski balls were created as spoofs on the formal New Orleans Mardi Gras ball's pomp and circumstance. The King’s crown has always been dilapidated old porcelain chamber pot while his scepter was a glittered plumber's helper. Irreverence has always been the Kinski Krewe's central theme.
When the organization was founded, no one thought that it would expand beyond a tight-knit circle of close friends. Through the years the circle eventually expanded to include friends of friends, younger brothers, cousins, etc. Members have come and gone. Some of the grandfathers have become inactive and no longer participate in the functions or business of the organization.
Through the years Kinski held other events in addition to the ones at Mardi Gras. Some, like The Basket of Cheer Raffles and The Spring Barbecue, were fundraisers for the group while Cat Island and Wolf River camping trips, crawfish boils and bonfires were simply social gatherings for members and guests
For a number of years the Kinski float was kept in a "den" that the group constructed on property owned by Howard Adams next to his greenhouses in Pass Christian. Later the float was moved to property belonging to the Battalora family's Pass Wholesale Supply.
Both of these dens were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and the float sustained substantial damage but was repaired and continued to roll. Eventually in 2010 the organization rode in the Pass parade for the final time and the float was brought to Waveland and a warehouse on property owned by the Markel family. Several years later in 2014, the group began to ride only in the Waveland St. Patrick's Day parade.
Through the years, especially when members were a bit younger, there were some particularly spirited parade rides, especially in the Pass Mardi Gras Parade. The details of these spirited rides shall also remain within the confines of the Kinski Krewe archives. What went on back there stays back there!
Any of the original friends present at those dining room table planning sessions would tell you that it was never envisioned that the organization would continue as long as it has. Never in anyone's wildest dreams was it thought that this club would still be in existence 46 years later!
With the passage of time membership and annual participation has waned. Some of even the youngest in the group are now grandparents and many members, frankly, have other priorities today.
There has been much speculation that the 2018 Waveland St. Patrick's Day Parade will have been be Kinski's Last Ride. If you attended this year's parade you saw lots of cabbage, carrots and corn being thrown from the Kinski float as well as the usual spirited irreverence toward everything!
After the parade the Krewe threw a "Kinski's Last Ride" Part One celebration in the Longfellow Civic Center at the top of the Bay St. Louis parking garage. "The Garagemahal" as it is affectionately known to many, was a fitting location for the krewe party. Only a limited number of tickets were sold and the affair was a sellout. The Kinski Krewe's first king as well as twenty-first king, Pat Murphy and his band, 'Sippiana Soul played to a packed room full of dancing, partying people.
Many who had enjoyed Kinski's Mardi Gras balls and functions through the years were in attendance on the chance that the event would be sending The Komik Kurt Kinski Karnival Krewe & Karrying On Klub riding off into the sunset. Whether the event was or was not the krewe's last ride remains to be seen but regardless, what a ride it has been! Readers may want to stay tuned for possible Last Rides Part etc., etc.
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