Zulu rolled uptown on Fat Tuesday

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King Zulu 2017, Adonis Expose, toasts Mayor Landrieu at Gallier Hall. - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • King Zulu 2017, Adonis Expose, toasts Mayor Landrieu at Gallier Hall.

Zulu began its revelry promptly at 8:00 a.m. on Mardi Gras morning, and made its feathered and fro'd way from Jackson and Claiborne to its triumphant end at the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club at Broad and Orleans, with only a relatively short halt due to a float breakdown. It was a rain-free (albeit exceptionally warm) day for the krewe's uptown jaunt. The Witch Doctor — whose job it is to keep the rain away — did his due diligence this year.

Zulu Queen 2017, Donna Glapion. - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • Zulu Queen 2017, Donna Glapion.

Queen Donna Glapion and King Adonis Expose both gave warm, grateful speeches to the people of New Orleans (via Mayor Mitch Landrieu) at Gallier Hall, and after the traditional smashing of champagne glasses — Ms. Glapion's hit the ground with a particularly satisfying crunch — both rode off to enjoy the after-festivities at Zulu's headquarters.

Most exciting for the krewe this year were their new floats. Zulu's krewe is made up of hundreds of members, but only a few get elected to hold the post of official Zulu characters, such as the Witch Doctor, the Big Shot, Mr. Big Stuff and the Province Prince. This year's parade unveiled new, customized floats for each of Zulu's special characters — a much-welcome change over the careworn, hand-me-down look of past floats.

The Zulu Ambassador float passes in front of eager crowds on St. Charles. This and the other character floats were brand-new this year and customized to represent each Zulu character. - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • The Zulu Ambassador float passes in front of eager crowds on St. Charles. This and the other character floats were brand-new this year and customized to represent each Zulu character.

The Zulu Big Shot waves to the crowds. - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • The Zulu Big Shot waves to the crowds.

The walking krewes that precede the King's, Queen's and Dukes' floats put on a great show in all their feathered regalia and traditional face paint. The Tramps, who led the procession, excited the crowds awaiting the arrival of the King.

The Zulu Tramps led the parade, accompanied by a brass band. - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • The Zulu Tramps led the parade, accompanied by a brass band.


New Orleans Pelicans players Anthony Davis and DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins (an Alabama native who once said that he only enjoyed the "real" Mardi Gras celebrated in his hometown of Mobile) appeared to have a ball as guest grand marshals of Zulu.

The Pelicans' DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins and Anthony Davis were guest grand marshals of Zulu this year. Davis can be seen on the far top left of the float, handing a throw to a Mardi Gras day reveler. - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • The Pelicans' DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins and Anthony Davis were guest grand marshals of Zulu this year. Davis can be seen on the far top left of the float, handing a throw to a Mardi Gras day reveler.

The costumes, music and enthusiastic riders did not disappoint; however, the thematic relevance of the non-character floats did. Other than a small printed border on the placard announcing significant riders featured on each, the floats' decorations bore no relation to the theme, "Stop the Violence."

Other than the border on each float placard that proclaimed the parade theme, the floats had little to do with "Stop the Violence." - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • Other than the border on each float placard that proclaimed the parade theme, the floats had little to do with "Stop the Violence."

One of the many repurposed floats featured Disney's Aladdin characters — completely unrelated to the krewe's theme. - KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Katherine M. Johnson
  • One of the many repurposed floats featured Disney's Aladdin characters — completely unrelated to the krewe's theme.

Given the surge in violence in the city — including violence that befell the families of a few krewe members in the past year — it seemed a wasted opportunity to promote a message of peace to the community. However, the King and Queen's speeches touched on those matters more eloquently than papier mache figureheads and paint ever could, and Zulu's message of fun was heard loud and clear.
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