A close-knit group of revelers convene down the crowded Convention Center Boulevard and onto a luxury bus en route to an exclusive Carnival party. As the merrymakers oblige for a quick light change, a lady leans forward from her car window: "Thank y'all. Y'all have fun!"
This past Friday evening, the Krewe of Okeanos celebrated its annual King's Party at the House of Broel on St. Charles Avenue. The event serves as a personal get-together of the krewe's royalty, members, and friends for a night of fellowship. While previous years of the event have occurred at a number of venues including the WWII Museum, this year saw a wonderful night at a privileged location along the routes of three different Uptown parades: the Krewe of Hermes, Krewe d'Etat, and the Krewe of Morpheus. Combining prime views of three major Uptown parades with an upscale celebration hosted by a fourth, it's hard to think of a better celebration of the New Orleans Carnival.
Before their ride to the House of Broel, the year's royalty and family convened together for a brief celebration at the Marriott Hotel across the street from the Convention Center. Getting a chance to see this brief pre-party, the royalty and court convey a close-knit sense of personal camaraderie. With Okeanos being one of Uptown's major day parades and a staple of the New Orleans Carnival since 1949, the krewe is proud of the wide reach of its membership. Just as there are a great many members from around Metro New Orleans, so too do many members travel in eastward from Texas and westward from Florida. One past king took pride in his status as the first-known king of a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade hailing from Canada.
Okeanos also takes on a generational importance for many of its members. The 2022 king, Mr. Bill Catsulis, takes great pride in the special importance for many of the krewe's families. One member of the royalty's family asserted, "Mardi Gras was always our Christmas." The court was quick and happy to share its historic photos from Carnivals' past, and the return of the Mardi Gras season after a two-year hiatus was a welcome cause for celebration and an exciting new chapter.
Once the buses had arrived for the main event at the House of Broel, spirits were high for the arrival of the royalty. Applause and excitement arrived for the arrival of King Bill, in tow with the rest of the court sporting specially-made second-line handkerchiefs. Once the royalty had arrived, celebrations rose with full-service buffet, open bar, and freeform celebration among the House of Broel's cabinets and antiques. A DJ blasted music, dancing filled the floors, and crowds mingled from the house's courtyards to the oak roots along St. Charles Avenue.
The event combined some of the best perks of indoor Mardi Gras celebrations with a personable energy and prime views of parade binge-watching—a winning combination of the best Mardi Gras has to offer. As Okeanos prepares for its parade going into the final climax of the year's celebrations, the affability was enough to assure anyone of a great weekend and parade ahead. Mardi Gras is finally back, and darned if Okeanos isn't ready to go make the most of it.
The 2022 Okeanos King's Party took place on Friday, February 25 at the House of Broel on St. Charles Avenue. The 2022 theme of Okeanos is "Love Stories" and the parade is scheduled to begin its Uptown route at 11 a.m., February 27. For more information on Okeanos, visit the krewe's Facebook page.