There's always something new and notable at Carnival, and the first weekend of Mardi Gras parades is full of exciting news, including the debut of two new krewes and some big anniversaries. In New Orleans, the St. Charles Avenue route will be very busy, with five parades Saturday and four in a row Sunday.
New Orleans and Metairie will welcome new krewes to the streets in 2015. Both are all-women krewes founded by African-American leadership and featuring diverse memberships. In Jefferson Parish, The Krewe of Athena was founded in 2014 to create a diverse krewe of women with an emphasis on community service, and it has been busy prior to Carnival season, providing backpacks and book supplies, working with children and other activities, says a krewe spokesperson. In Orleans Parish, The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale was formed by women, many of whom have ridden and been associated with the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. The krewe concludes a full day of parades on Sunday.
The Krewe of Pontchartrain doesn't parade in its Lakefront neighborhood any more, so it will celebrate its 40th anniversary on St. Charles Avenue. Look for special anniversary throws. The Krewe of Choctaw moved to the St. Charles Avenue route from its longtime West Bank home, and it marks its 80th anniversary. But it's as if the krewe were just beginning, as it introduces a tandem float for the first time and signature hand-decorated throws.
My previews include information on krewe royalty parade themes, floats and throws.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6
Theme: Carnival Around the World
Shango: Randy Moore
Queen: Dr. LaRease Nichole Thomas
Throws: krewe mugs, bracelets and krewe and theme beads
WWL-TV's Sheba Turk serves as grand marshal and special units include the New Orleans Baby Dolls. The theme celebrates festivals in countries from China to Uruguay as well as in the U.S.
Theme: Nightmare on the Avenue
Cleopatra: Suzanne Depre Arceneaux
Throws: hand-decorated glasses, lighted head boppers, rings, bracelets, swords
The krewe scares up a slew of frights with floats depicting Dracula, voodoo dolls, a mummy and films such as The Bride of Frankenstein.
Theme: A Knight of Sweet Delights
King: James Bachemin Jr.
Queen: Melanie Sharp
Throws: lighted yo-yos, bracelets, key rings and medallions, hand-decorated shields, doubloons, fedoras and purple, green and gold women's hats
The theme celebrates sweet treats and holidays associated with them. Floats depict Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, birthday cake and more. Maids' costumes also incorporate local favorites including beignets and Roman Candy. Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni rides as a special guest.
Theme: The First of Many
King: Laron Nelson
Queen: Ayanna Chanel Fultz
Throws: plush owls, hand-decorated fedoras, krewe emblem medallions, umbrellas and long beads
The new krewe's debut theme celebrates a variety of firsts, including a first Mardi Gras, first kiss, first day of school and first rodeo. The pink-colored First Squeeze float is designed to raise awareness of mammograms and breast cancer screening. Throws include hand-decorated fedoras, one of the krewe's icons.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7
Location: West Bank
Theme: Short 'N Sweet
Adonis: Derek St. Amant
Queen: Rachael LeBlanc
The Mystic Knights of Adonis celebrate the sweeter things, including candy, with clever word play. The Minty Fresh float depicts St. Patrick's Day. Cottontail Candy marks Easter. The Sweets of the Knight is about Christmas candy.
Theme: Go Jump in the Lake
King: Brent James Laliberte
Queen: Amanda Marie Laliberte
Throws: plush grouper fish, 40th anniversary medallions, krewe magnets, footballs, softballs, blue and gold captain's doubloons and large cups
On its 40th anniversary, the krewe introduces a beer wagon called Bayou Clydesdales, which features many of the city's popular former breweries. The theme celebrates Lake Pontchartrain and floats depict the amusements at Pontchartrain Beach, the Causeway and picnicking at Fort Pike.
Theme: Through the Years
Chief: Walter G. Sisung Jr.
Princess: Shae Michelle Favrot
Throws: hand-decorated tomahawks, plush tomahawks and spears, wooden nickels, throwing discs, logo medallions and cups
The krewe celebrates its 80th anniversary with floats depicting popular parades from its history. Riding as grand marshal is Jimmy Clark, one of Carnival's first parade reviewers and an innovator of parade throws. It's his first ride in a parade. The krewe is growing, and its first tandem float is titled Choctaw Salutes Southern Indian Culture. Also new this year are hand-decorated tomahawks, which will be handed out by riders.
Theme: Sophomore Shenanigans
King: Bobby Hjortsberg
Queen: Allison Hjortsberg
Throws: Hand-decorated masks, locally made glass and clay beads, sunglasses, whoopee cushions, fuzzy dice, silver doubloons, gold medallion beads.
Darryl "Dancingman504" Young leads the procession along with his second-line dancing group Krewe Dat. The krewe's Mexican wrestling-styled El Lucha Krewe also marches. Floats feature popular games, such as Mouse Trap, Monopoly, Angry Birds and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, and a few with local flavor include "Governor Edwards Game," depicting casino games, and the Boil Advisory float with an alligator.
Theme: Broadway on Parade
Emperor: Ronald Dawson
Queen: Chloe Breaux
Throws: lighted swords, bouncy balls and lanyards, stuffed leopards, plush battle axes, doubloons, theme cups
The theme celebrates popular musicals, including Wicked, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, Camelot, Damn Yankees and The Phantom of the Opera. Spider-Man (and Iron Man), however, comes from Marvel Comics. The superheroes will throw trading card-sized hologram items. Marching bands in the procession are eligible for Jefferson Parish's Rhythm on the Route band contest.
Theme: In the Mood
King: Phillip Ray Brown
Queen: Madeline Gloria Clement
Throws: lighted medallion beads, polystone theme beads, lighted Spartan shields and rose wands, wearable plush Spartan helmet, various doubloons including specially shaped king's doubloon
In Knights of Sparta tradition, the king rides a mule-drawn float and the procession features flambeaux. The romantic theme includes floats titled Moonlight Cocktail, Taking a Chance on Love and April in Paris. Special units include the Organ Grinders marching group and the Yat Pack music bus.
Theme: Spectrum of Emotions
King: Richard Geraci
Queen: Jessica Elizabeth Lewis
Throws: full array of lighted items includes bracelets, logo rings and rubber balls, medallions on krewe lanyards and junior Pygmalion medallions
The parade theme promises an emotional roller coaster ride (and Carnival's longest float titles) from The Brazen Greed of Ebenezer Scrooge and The Shadowy Seduction of the Black Swan to The Cruelty of Hannibal Lecter and The Passion of Romeo and Juliet.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8
Theme: A Night at the Opera
King: Mark Scott Terral
Queen: Kathleen Garitty White
Throws: theme beads, footballs, throwing discs, doubloons and cups
The Krewe of Carrollton introduces a couple of tandem floats in its parade. The theme celebrates popular operas, including several presented in New Orleans in recent years, such as Carmen, Rigoletto and Turandot.
Theme: It's in the Mail
King: Thomas Adams Bourgeois
Queen: Mary Elizabeth LeBlanc
Throws: King Arthur pillows, sunglasses, throwing discs, head boppers and blow horns
The Knights of King Arthur have expanded the round table to include more than 700 members. The krewe's largest parade ever is a (sometimes sarcastic) salute to exotic destinations via postmarks, and sites incluce Hawaii, the North Pole, the Florida Everglades and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. John "Spud" McConnell serves as grand marshal.
Theme: Liberty and Justice For All
King: Les Falgout
Queen: Gabrielle Lynn Taylor
Throws: plush red, white and blue items including stars, elephants and donkeys; hand-strung medallion beads, alligator medallions, doubloons, cups and the Legion of Mars will distribute camouflage hats.
In 2014, Alla's first East Bank parade endured heavy rains, and what may be its introduction to many this year will be a patriotic affair. Floats will honor the Founding Fathers, all four branches of the military, the Statue of Liberty and Women in War, such as Rosie the Riveter. Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills rides as a guest of the krewe. The krewe also includes riders representing the Legion of Mars, a group of active military and veterans. The procession features more than 20 marching bands.
Theme: The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale Remembers Hollywood Horror Classics
La Grande Femme Fatale: Gwendolyn V. Rainey
Throws: compacts, logo beads and cups
The all-woman krewe makes its Carnival debut with a parade celebrating Hollywood horror films. Floats depict Aliens and other classic genre characters including a witch doctor and the Headless Horseman, as well as a haunted house. The krewe will distribute compacts, which it has chosen as its icon.