Not only is the French Quarter built on a Native burial ground, but according to one of the many haunted walking tours, the dead outnumber the living in New Orleans 10- to- 1 (4 million to 400,000). With gothic architecture, Anne Rice's vampire legacy, Marie Laveau's deep seeded voodoo rituals and 42 "cities" devoted to the dead, it's no wonder that tourists from all over the world participate in the macabre spectacle that is Halloween in New Orleans. As the most haunted city in America, the costumes are more extravagant, the ambiance more eerie and in classic fashion, Mardi Gras World's Brian Kern will be heading up the Halloween tradition, Krewe of Boo.
The parade debuted in 2010 and after a short break, these spooksters are back in action and ready to impress. Each double-decker float is created in the remembrance of iconic pop culture monsters like the nightmarish doll, Chuckie. The freaky floats will roll on Saturday October 26th at 6:30 on Elysian Fields Ave, through the Quarter, past the St. Louis Cathedral and on towards Convention Center Blvd. Unlike traditional Mardi Gras parades, the Krewe of Boo will roll for about 2 hours. The festivities will culminate around 8 at Mardi Gras World for the first annual Krewe of Boo Spookfest extravaganza.
Kern explains that the duration of the parade is shorter because the Krewe of Boo is interested in quality not quantity.After watching the front loaders round up a shocking amount of bead waste each carnival season, he was inspired to turn Krewe of Boo "green." Instead of throwing internationally imported beads, the Krewe of Boo will throw locally made, consumable and collectible items. "When people toss beads to me I don't catch them. I could care less" Kern confesses. "But when they are throwing something special, then I try. We want people to want [our throws because] they can eat them or wear them - We don't want the things we throw to end up in a landfill."
Part of Kern's plan to change wasteful bead throwing habits is a partnership with I Heart Louisiana. The organization's mission is to preserve the spirit of New Orleans with low-priced, high-quality, locally made throws designed to enhance a unique, sustainable and fun Carnival experience. By helping krewes make more informed decisions on throws, I Heart Louisiana hopes to improve the ecological and economic health of the state.
"I would think that in the future bead companies are going to stop spending money in China" Kern disclosed on the subject. "But we need to give people the opportunity to [buy locally]. Beads were novel in their day [when they were made of glass], but it has evolved into people buying more and more; it's become wasteful. We are becoming greener and more environmentally conscious, but beads go against the grain of that." At Mardi Gras World, Kern and his team recycle props and floats - some of which are 50+ years old. He hopes that his example will transfer to future Carnival krewes and traditions.
Krewe of Boo will be throwing an assortment of locally made products that say "Louisiana." Items include mini pumpkins, hand-painted oyster shells, bio-degradable cups filled with candy, paper beads, locally made glass beads, Zapps, PJs coffee, packets of Cajun spices and a surprise signature collectible. Fleurty Girl is also designing a special shirt. Kern says the practice could pump $200,000 into the local economy this year alone.
Each of the three hundred Krewe of Boo float riders will not only receive a basket with $500 worth of throws, but VIP admission to the first annual Krewe of Boo party at Mardi Gras World. The costume party will feature an array of floats and seasonally inspired props as well as performances by Flow Tribe and Brooklyn's Pimps of Joytime. With signature drink specials, VIP seating and appearances by groups like the 610 Stompers, the Krewe of Boo Spookfest is guaranteed to offer plenty of bone-chilling, spine tingling thrills. Tickets can be purchased for $25 in advance, $35 at the door. VIP tickets are $75 and are expected to sell out.
"This is the start of a really good yearly event" says Kern. "I want people to see the floats and be in awe." As the spirit of New Orleans continues to prove unstoppable, the city's localization is gaining speed and contributing to the unique nature of what so many people travel here to experience. This years Halloween festivities are no exception. For more information on membership, photos, and party tickets, visit kreweofboo.com. Don't miss the chance to see the beginning of this awesome tradition first hand - It might be the only chance you get all year to dress like Spiderman, participate in a grassroots movement and BOO-ze all in one day.