Krampus is coming for you, New Orleans


Krampus and a Sister of SHHH. - COURTESY KREWE OF KRAMPUS
  • Krampus and a Sister of SHHH.

What is Christmas without the Alpine tradition of a horned bipedal demon, covered in fur, and visiting homes to shove naughty children into sacks.

Krampus — whose recent pop cultural density aligns with a growing phenomenon and fascination with dark stuff — has appeared in celebrations and parades throughout the U.S., from Bloomington, Indiana to Philadelphia to Los Angelies. This weekend, New Orleans’ Krewe of Krampus makes its formal debut with its Krampus NOLAuf.

While Krampusnacht precedes the Feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 5, the Krewe of Krampus will roll Saturday, Dec. 2 on Royal Street through Bywater, bringing with it a parade of noisy horns, costumed revelers and, of course, Krampus. Ending the parade is an honorary St. Nick.
Traditional Krampuslauf events feature village men dressed as Krampus in elaborate wood-carved masks and thick fur hides, while others parade as Krampus hand out coal and look generally disturbing.

Krewe of Krampus co-founder Michael Esordi was inspired by Krampus events while traveling through Europe and studying old legends and mysteries.

“I’ve traveled around everywhere, lived everywhere — one of the things I’ve been fascinated by is folklore,” says Esordi, a graphic designer by day.

After participating in Philadelphia Krampus events and moving to New Orleans, Esordi and wife and krewe co-founder Diana Esordi discussed how to put together a local Krampus event. Last year, they “infiltrated the Christmas parade” and passed out cards. The group also appeared in this year's Krewe of Boo parade.

“It seems like it was catching on, we thought, ‘Why don’t we just go for it?’” Esordi says. “We’ll bring some New Orleans flair to it, but we’re going to keep a section of it that’s traditional.”

Diana leads the Sisters of SHHH,  an original demonic ice queen creation that demands silence from the parade goers “or they’ll steal your soul." The group will serve as the heralds for more than a dozen Krampus.

Also in the parade are the Skinz n Bonez, which created new instruments for the parade, and Mischief and Mayhem, which includes nontraditional folklore-inspired costumers (including a “dapper” Krampus in a top hat and a “Swampus," a Louisiana-inspired Krampus).

Sven Vorkauf, who owns Bywater biergarten Bratz Y’all, is this year’s honorary St. Nick. Bratz Y’all also has served as the krewe’s de facto den and it’ll host the parade’s after party.

The krewe's throws are plaster-made, hand-decorated lumps of coal, and St. Nick will hand out lumps of gold.

Esordi has several fated New Orleans connections, with the krewe synthesizing both sides of his family into a new tradition — his great uncle lived in the French Quarter and would send him doubloons in the mail after Mardi Gras, and his grandmother was part of a Hungarian settlement in Hammond. He’s also “always been fascinated with floats” after designing floats throughout high school for homecoming parades. “It brings in a little bit of every aspect of my history,” he says.

He says the krewe eventually will incorporate floats and parade designs “to tell the story” and create a “more performance-type event” in its next editions. He also hopes the group will also sustain krewe-like events throughout the year.

“They’re popping up everywhere,” he says. “New Orleans has one now to call its own.”

Krewe of Krampus NOLAuf
7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2
The parade starts at Parleaux Beer Lab (634 Lesseps St,), proceeds up Royal Street to Piety Street, then turns left at Peity and ends at Bratz Y’all (617-B Piety St.)

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