Carnival's alternative marchers
For many decades, riders on the prestigious floats that paraded for hours were the wealthiest citizens of the city: the only people who could afford the exorbitant fees required to join a krewe and attend lavish balls. But walking krewes have been popping up at Mardi Gras in recent years with a spirit of parading for all people, and crowd size has increased for these vibrant and vivacious celebrations because the themes and costumes go into some wild territories. The burgeoning walking parade scene is also more accessible than the big krewes, open for anyone to join for modest fees and less secretive than the decades-old groups. The ingenuity of these krewes is catching the attention of locals and tourists alike seeking a great show.
The satirically-inclined krewedelusion is one of the youngest of the new krewes, having been formed in January of 2010 by already established groups of marchers who wanted a parade of their own, and successfully obtained a permit to become an official Mardi Gras krewe. The Krewe of Bananas and The AlKrewiests formed specifically to march in the krewe. krewedelusion maintains a satirical spirit; their themes are witty, and that character translates into the way the krewe is run. For instance, the royalty of the krewe is charged with dealing with all of the krewe business, from handling the krewe's funds to making peace in the world, as opposed to the royals being pampered and admired. Their fourth annual Carnival parade, called "episode 4," rolls on January 19th through the downtown area. The theme is kept secret until they parade, but all participants must pay homage to that theme. krewedelsuion is open to everyone, and anyone interested in joining krewedelusion can even form their own krewe, even if they are the only person in it. The krewe must simply have a name and banner. There will be no shortage of paraders; past innerkrewes have included The Camel Toe Lady Steppers, The Noisician Coalition, The Pussyfooters, Skinz-n-Bonez, The Bearded Oysters and Krewe du Jieux. You can read more about krewedelusion and get their parade route and afterparty information on krewedelusion.org.
Nerds are no longer hiding, and are parading their pride. "Nerd culture is mainstream now," states Overlord Powers of the Chewbacchus Krewe. "Now we're celebrated for doing the things that we were tormented for doing in school," adds Overlord Ballard. The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus recognizes all things dealing with science fiction, fantasy, and even horror; anything you can be a fan of that is usually considered nerdy, dorky, geeky, and so on. In keeping with the Greek god praising of many larger parades, the Bacchanaliens, as members are referred to, praise the Sacred Drunken Wookie.
Chewbacchus was begun by three Overlords in 2010 at, of course, the Saturn Bar when they realized someone needed to meld science fiction and Mardi Gras together. Overlord Ryan Ballard explains, "I thought the idea was brilliant, so I went into my studio and built the Bar2D2, and rounded up about 25 hardcore, dedicated helpers, and before you know it we rolled our first year with three hundred members, a dozen home-made contraptions, all these people in incredible costumes, and massive enthusiasm. We were allowed to roll backwards on the St. Charles route, the first krewe in history to do that, and it was a blast."
The route will be moved to the Marigny and Bywater and will roll on January 26th at 8 p.m. Now in their third year, the krewe has grown, but retains a low entrance fee. "We're one of the few legitimate, organized, permanent Mardi Gras krewes that people can afford to be in. Our dues will remain forty two dollars, because, if you're a fan of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy¸ 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Our main goal is to give people access to Mardi Gras," states Overlord Powers proudly. Chewbacchus is made of multiple smaller krewes that parade with Chewbacchus under distinct banners that represent different genres of things to geek out over. Overlord Powers describes a few of the subkrewes: "We have a subkrewe called the Mystic Krewe of P.u.E.W.C. for the inclusion of people into unicorns, elves, and whinebots in Chewbacchus. We have our own dance team called the vaJar Jar Binks, and their escorts are the scruffy looking nerfherders which are hans Solos in shorts. We also have the Dr. Who parade contingent called the Krewe de Who."
Other sub-krewes include Ewokus, Mighty Wookie Fi-yo, and many more. Every parade needs a royal court, and Chewbacchus' version of a Grand Marshall for the 2013 parade, riding on a brand-new Millennium Falcon, is the original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew. Overlord Ballard says, "It's sort of the ultimate royalty for Chewbacchus, we scored the big one this year. We'll be hard-pressed to outdo ourselves on this one." Overlord Powers adds, "On January 25th , Peter Mayhew will be appearing at BSI Comics in Metairie to sign autographs in conjunction with a blood drive."
The revelers will end their parade at the after party called the Chewbacchanal. you can read more about Chewbacchus, fi nd the details about the Chewbacchanal, and keep up with all of their year-round events on Chewbacchus.org.
Another of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus' sub-krewes is the Krewe of the Living Dead, or the zombie-lovers. KOLD throws year-round zombie crawls for many occasions, but will be having its own march on Mardi Gras Day for the second annual, open-to-everyone parade through the French Quarter. richard riggs explains its beginnings: "In 2011, we came to Wizard World Comic Con and there was no zombie representation at all. So we said, 'Next year, let's try to get some zombie representation.' And we did it. We pulled it off. From there, we just started scheduling events and we hooked up with the NOLA Zombie Walk and became one thing. We have a core of about seventy to eighty people who show up at every walk. It's getting bigger." This year's parade theme is "Beads, Booze, and Brains" and will be under the reign of the Grand Marshall, lovingly called the Queen of the Living Dead 2013, Ms. Thea Munster, who founded the world's fi rst zombie walk, the Toronto Zombie Walk. As always, the march is open for the public to join in, and bloody, gory zombie attire is highly encouraged." riggs explains the theme: "Basically our theme is you went to Mardi Gras, you got bit, you got infected. So however you were dressed during Mardi Gras, you're a zombie searching for brains in whatever costume you were in. you could have been on a fl oat, you could've been rolling in rex, you could've been in Zulu…you got bit and that's where we're at." you can read more about KOLD at kreweofthelivingdead.org.
The Mystic Krewe of Barkus believes that our furry friends deserve to celebrate Fat Tuesday too, and created a parade just for them. The Barkus Parade is nothing new; they are celebrating their twenty-fi rst year at their parade on Sunday, January 27th, which will roll, rather, walk on all fours, through fi fteen blocks of the French Quarter. The theme is "here Comes honey Bow Wow: Tails and Tiaras," and the registration includes one dog and one human for a modest price, which goes to benefi t different animal welfare-related organizations. Barkus keeps an emphasis on pet adoptions and helping homeless animals with the parade. you can read more about the Krewe of Barkus and their animal outreach on barkus.org.
Experiencing a walking parade or two this season may keep you away from the larger parades once you realize how incredibly fun they are for everyone. you might also get some unconventional throws, but you'll just have to go to the parade and catch them for yourself.
2013'S ALTERNATIVE KREWES
Krewe of Cork: Friday Jan 25 @ 3:00 PM, French Quarter The Krewe of Cork has grown into a world-famous Mardi Gras and wine industry phenomenon.
'tit Rex: Saturday Jan 26 @ 5:00 PM, Marigny 'tit rex fl oats are made out of shoeboxes that look like full size fl oats.
Krewe of Chewbacchus: Saturday Jan 26 @ 8:00 PM, Marigny The Intergalatic Krewe of Chewbacchus is a sci-fi -themed parade.
Krewe of Barkus: Sunday Jan 27 @ 2:00 PM, French Quarter The Krewe of Barkus centers around man's best friend.
Krewe of the Living Dead: Tuesday Feb 12 @ TBA, French Quarter Krewe of the Living Dead features zombies, beads, booze, and brains.
Krewe of Mariah: Sunday, Feb. 10 - Krewe of Mariah is devoted to Mariah Carey and all her diva-ness. Click here for more info: http://www.facebook.com/KreweofMariah
Krewe of Elvis: Tuesday, Feb 12 @ 10:30 AM, French Quarter - A krewe devoted to Elvis.
Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Walking Club: Tuesday Feb 12 @ 7:45 AM, French Quarter A krewe mostly on foot, now featuring one or two small fl oats.
Societé de Saint Anne: Tuesday Feb 12 @ 10:00 AM, Marigny to French Quarter The marching krewe is known for their very elaborate costumes.
Krewe of Kosmic Debris: Tuesday, Feb 12 @ Noon, French Quarter If you play a portable musical instrument, you can show up in costume and jam on Dixieland standards.