Two Parades to Whet your Appetite

Krewe du Vieux and krewedelusion roll this Saturday

Ernest Hemingway once said, “I love puns. They are like fish. Where are my cats?” Ok, so I made all of that up and undoubtedly, he probably hated puns. But it’s Carnival time and that means puns and satire will rule the streets, along with the fake royalty that are part of our Mardi Gras traditions.

Two krewes who excel at the political and lewd are rolling this Saturday – Krewe du Vieux and krewedelusion. For the uninitiated, a krewe in New Orleans is usually a group of people who organize and participate in Mardi Gras parades, though the term has now been borrowed by casual groups and retail brands.

Krewe du Vieux rolls on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Marigny from Decatur St. and Marigny St. and will travel Royal St. to the French Quarter. Details on the route can be found here. The krewedelusion follows immediately after at approximately 7:00 p.m. from Royal St. and Franklin Ave. and will travel Royal St. to Frenchman St. to Decatur St. into the French Quarter. Details on their route can be found here.

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These parades are two of my favorites because they feature some of the most creative work by the citizens of New Orleans, as well as some of the most insightful observations about our culture. These messages are communicated through hand-pulled or mule-pulled floats, handmade throws, homemade costumes, and quite honestly, nudity. The parades take aim at the high and low, and since they are known to express themselves through phallic symbols and blatant sexuality, it will be interesting to see if any of the floats directly refer to #MeToo and the rising media prominence of the reality so many women have known for so long.

That being said, who doesn’t love a bit of shock? Can we be shocked anymore? Both of these krewes push that envelope every year and rarely disappoint.

Krewe du Vieux has announced their theme as “Bienville’s Wet Dream,” so expect many of the floats to make fun of New Orleans’ Tricentennial and the hubbub surrounding it. I have heard rumors of floats featuring a giant squid, unicorns, the mayoral race and climate change, all of which are typical fodder for this krewe. Their royalty this year is King Richard Campanella, a writer, geographer and historian of international acclaim who has a lovely sense of humor and deep love for New Orleans. About Krewe du Vieux he is quoted as saying, “If you take off your glasses and squint a little bit, the parade could pass for Mardi Gras in 1880. Krewe du Vieux is the only one that still retains that spatial proximity to the streetscape and people-scape around it and that helps make it the experience it is.  That and the giant phalluses."

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One could argue that krewedelusion also maintains its spatial proximity to the streetscape and people-scape with giant phalluses, which I’m sure was just an oversight on the king’s part.

Krewedelusion keeps their theme a secret until they hit the streets and will do so not with a king, but with a ruler. The chosen man this year is Ruler Washboard Chaz Leary, who will be crowned “Emperor of the Thimbles & Captain of New Orleans.” Leary, best known simply as Washboard Chaz, is a celebrated washboard player and can be seen performing with The Tin Men, Palmetto Bug Stompers and The Washboard Chaz Blues Trio. Since he plays using thimbles, he will be handing out his used ones to parade spectators as special throws.

Whether or not you are easily offended, experiencing these unique parades is a must. Just savor the spectacle and keep your opinions to yourself.

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