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Rex Duke previews the first weekend's Mardi Gras parades

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Without a Super Bowl in the way, 2014's parade season begins a whole month later than in 2013. Not to worry, as my parade previews include throw highlights, float previews, Carnival royalty and other tidbits to prepare you for the festivities.
Happy Carnival!

Friday, Feb. 21

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Oshun
6 p.m.
Location: Uptown
Theme: Night Out in the Big Easy
Floats: 18
Shango: Christopher Brown
Queen: Laquina Brown
Throws: krewe emblem beads, hurricane glasses, mugs and footballs

Several local personalities join the procession, including Q93-FM DJ Wild Wayne, WDSU-TV's Damon Singleton, Miss Black Louisiana Chelsea Smith and some of the New Orleans Saints Super Fans. Floats depict Super Sunday, Easy Rider and "Rolling on the River." Prized throws include the krewe's signature peacock necklaces and bracelets.

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Cleopatra
6:30 p.m.
Location: Uptown
Theme: Strolling Down the Avenue
Floats: 24
Queen: Alexandra Kathryn Breland
Throws: lighted fans, wands and hairpieces, Cleopatra bracelets, rings and koozies, decorated glasses

Parade watchers can do a double take as floats display landmarks located on St. Charles Avenue. Floats include streetcars, Lee Circle, Tulane and Loyola universities, Sacred Heart and Audubon Park.

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Excalibur
7 p.m.
Location: Metairie
Theme: A Knight at the Renaissance Faire
Floats: 20
King: Patrick Bain
Queen: Toni Sullivan-Adams
Throws: fedoras, lighted wands, necklaces, bracelets, yo-yos, logo beads

The Knights of Camelot and Ladies of Avalon time travel to the familiar surroundings of a contemporary renaissance faire. Floats depict jousting and medieval games, Celtic culture, Brighton Castle and more. Prized throws include miniature wooden shields hand-decorated by krewe members. Guest riders include The Top Cats and Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni.


Saturday, Feb. 22

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Adonis
11:45 a.m.
Location: West Bank
Theme: Dis, Dat, and Da Utta Ting
Floats: 14
King: Ronald Joseph Boudreaux
Queen: Lauren Mari Sisk
Throws: krewe cups

The krewe celebrates a few of its favorite things with floats titled "Nun-sense" and "Happy Birthday George."

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Pontchartrain
1 p.m.
Location: Uptown
Theme: What's Eating New Orleans?
Floats: 14
King: Mark Edward Bowen
Queen: Brandy Lynn Bowen
Throws: Choker beads, beach balls, footballs, krewe magnets, krewe cups

Floats will be adorned with muffulettas, king cakes and bananas Foster in honor of all things edible in New Orleans.

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Choctaw
1:45 p.m.
Location: Uptown
Theme: Choctaw's Vacation Destinations
Floats: 17
Chief: Charles Lindsey
Princess: Bonnie Rowe Calvert
Throws: Theme cups, captain's wooden nickels, plush spears and tomahawks

The krewe has maintained a boat parade tradition, but the procession rolling on St. Charles Avenue will explore more exotic travel and vacation experiences. Floats depict Southern plantations, the Botanical Gardens and jet setting to medieval Russia. The parade features a dozen bands, including those from Edna Karr and Lutcher high schools.

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Freret
Follows: Choctaw
Location: Uptown
Theme: There's a First Time for Everything
Floats: 14
King: Jason Williams
Queen: Ary Dotiwala
Throws: hand-decorated masks and krewe items, large cups, doubloons

The Krewe of Freret makes its parade debut. The theme "There's a First Time for Everything" is illustrated on floats such as "Love at First Bite," featuring Dracula. Special marching groups include El Lucha Krewe, costumed as luchadores, and Dames de Perlage, a group dedicated to Carnival beadwork. Hand-decorated items include masks, oyster rings, magnets, hair clips and more.

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Caesar
6 p.m.
Location: Metairie
Theme: Gametime
Floats: 26
King: John Roche Jr.
Queen: Nicole DaLeo
Throws: lighted lanyards, slap bracelets, and plush Caesar axes, dogs and leopards

The krewe marks its 35th anniversary with a special gold doubloon, but the rest is all fun and games. The theme focuses primarily on children's games, including Monopoly, Where's My Water and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Guest riders include New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead and other players. Black and gold football beads likely will be a popular throw.

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Sparta
6: p.m
Location: Uptown
Theme: Isn't It Romantic
Floats: 16
King: D. Michael Vincent
Queen: Keri Lynn Mercer
Throws: LED medallion beads and Spartan shields, lighted rose wands and glitter balls, plush Spartan helmets, throwing discs

The Knights of Sparta celebrate famous couples, including Romeo and Juliet, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, and Napoleon and Josephine. Mule-drawn floats, including the Spartan helmet mini-float and the king's float, lead the parade.

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Pygmalion
6:45 p.m.
Location: Uptown
Theme: A Few of My Favorite Songs
Floats: 20
King: Ed Robinson
Queen: Ella Marie Workmon
Throws: stuffed jesters and Pygmammoths, lighted lanyards

The krewe added two signature floats in recent years (Jesters, Pygmammoth) and continues to grow. It marks its 15th anniversary with a lighted medallion bead. The theme celebrates music with floats named for the songs "Thriller," "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Love Train" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."


Sunday, Feb. 23

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Carrollton
Noon
Location: Uptown
Theme: Carrollton Goes Two by Two
Floats: 24
King: Chris Joseph Bode
Queen: Shelley Laine Schexnayder
Throws: medallion beads, sunglasses, footballs, throwing discs

The Krewe of Carrollton marks its 90th anniversary. The theme celebrates famous pairs, including Romeo and Juliet, wine and cheese and Barnum and Bailey.

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King Arthur
1 p.m.
Location: Uptown
Theme: King Arthur Has the Blues
Floats: 27
King: Johnny F. Prejean
Queen: Natasha Tara Shaw
Throws: blush, plush spears and fuzzy disco balls

King Arthur, formerly called the Knights of King Arthur, started running in 1977 through Harvey and Marrero.

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Alla
Follows King Arthur
Location: Uptown
Theme: Alla Goes to NOLA
Floats: 21
King: Chris Roberts (Jefferson Parish councilman-at-large)
Queen: Gabrielle Lynn Taylor
Throws: doubloons, cups, boas, bouncy balls, squeeze balls, golden griffin plush toys

Alla has been a West Bank parade for the past 81 years, but this year it moves to St. Charles Avenue. The Legion of Mars combines with Alla to make one big parade. The "NOLA" theme includes floats honoring K&B, D.H. Holmes and Tulane Stadium. Alla's Hope Float is dedicated to breast cancer awareness.

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