If this season is your first time experiencing Mardi Gras, everyone, including myself, will be encouraging you to check out certain parades that we swear are the best ones. Everyone has their favorite parades run by their favorite krewes, and nobody here likes to keep those preferences to themselves.
Each parade krewe has its own history and its own traditions that make its parade so much fun. Every krewe is special and unique, and their parades reflect that. By just looking at pictures or videos of different krewes and their parades, you might see small differences like what the members of each krewe are throwing from the floats, what they're wearing, or how their floats are decorated, but there's much more than that which sets each krewe apart.
Some of the krewes that you'll hear about the most are Zulu, Bacchus, Endymion, Orpheus, Muses, and Krewe du Vieux. My personal favorite would probably be Zulu, partly because of the fact that it takes place first thing in the morning on the last day of the parades (8:00 a.m. on Fat Tuesday) and partly because almost the entire city attends it. These are some of the most popular parades every year, and they're definitely worth experiencing. However, if you want to show off to visitors, or friends, and show them a parade they've never seen or maybe even heard of, here are a few of the krewes that often go under the radar of mainstream Mardi Gras-goers.
Krewe of 'tit Rex:
'tit Rex is short for Petit Rex and is a kind of ironic take on the bigger, more popular krewes that compete to have the biggest, most extravagant floats. It was founded in 2009, and the point of the parade is for members to make incredible floats, only fractions of the size of the massive floats that are in all of the other, bigger parades.
The floats are often made out of shoe boxes, and while they are obviously far smaller than the usual float, they can be incredibly detailed. The parade for this krewe doesn't get as crazy, packed, or loud, and is a cute, fun, more relaxed option to take a break from the craziness while still being at a parade.
Krewe of Barkus:
My personal favorite krewe outside of the bigger, more mainstream krewes is most likely the Krewe of Barkus. Legend has it that at a meeting of the Margaret Orr fan club, a member brought his dog. Members of the club were annoyed at the dog and at the dog's owner for bringing a dog in the first place. As revenge, the member (Thomas Wood) thought it would be fitting to create a parade with his pet dog as the leader, or queen, of the entire parade.
Now, Barkus is officially registered as a licensed parade krewe. You can attend the parade, which only spans about 15 blocks, and watch the Mardi Gras pups trot along, fully dressed up, while the entire French Quarter is overrun with puppies—both part of the parade and not. You can even register your own dog online and dress him or her up without feeling weird about it!
Krewe of Chewbacchus:
Getting its name from a combination of Chewbacca and Bacchus, Chewbacchus combines Mardi Gras with the Star Wars universe. It's quite literally the best of both worlds.
If you don't know who Chewbacca is, this might not be the parade for you. But then again, it's essentially impossible to find a parade that isn't right for anyone. If you're unfamiliar with this furry Star Wars creature, look up his highlights on YouTube; you won't be disappointed.
Bacchus, on the other hand, is arguably the most extravagant and exciting parade of Mardi Gras. They have some of the biggest and most abundant floats of any krewe, and every year, they choose a new famous celebrity to be the king of the parade.
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus usually holds a parade that is generally Star Wars- and sci-fi-based, but this year will be more closely focused on the wookie himself: Chewbacca. Peter Mayhew, the man who played Chewbacca, will be in attendance. If you plan on attending this parade, be safe and keep an eye out for storm troopers; they'll be on the lookout for rebel forces.
Krewe of Thoth:
This krewe has an interesting and morally uplifting history. In 1947, Thoth's founding members designed a very unique route that was designed specifically to pass by institutions and places where people with illnesses and disabilities live. One of the main purposes behind the Krewe of Thoth is to provide the glory and wonder of Mardi Gras to people who, without this specific route drawn, might not be able to witness much of the Mardi Gras festivities.
Krewes like these are part of what makes Mardi Gras so special. There's something for every single person out there. There are parades for dog lovers and sci-fi nerds like myself, and people even go quite literally out of their way to bring parades to people who wouldn't be able to otherwise see them.
While the bigger, more mainstream parades are absolutely incredible and are, in my opinion, a must-see, they are talked about far more than a lot of the other smaller krewes and parades. So, if you've already seen most of the bigger parades that people talk about nonstop, if you want to show off your knowledge of less mainstream krewes, if you want to take a break from the insanity of some of the bigger krewes, or if you just want to say hello to Chewbacca, there is a goldmine of krewes out there—including more that I haven't mentioned—that have a lot to offer to anyone interested.