Zulu paraded Fat Tuesday, Feb. 13

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The Mondo Kayo walking club showers Lafayette Square with confetti ahead of the Zulu parade. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • The Mondo Kayo walking club showers Lafayette Square with confetti ahead of the Zulu parade.

The Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club kicked off Mardi Gras Day festivities promptly at 8:15 a.m. on Fat Tuesday. The krewe rolled unimpeded by the usual breakdowns and gaps that plague many of the larger krewes, and the weather was nearly perfect. The Zulu Witchdoctor — whose job it is to ensure fair weather for parade day — was on his job this year, notably as forecasters predicted rain chances and overcast skies.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu toasts King Zulu 2018 Brent D. Washington Sr. at Gallier Hall. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu toasts King Zulu 2018 Brent D. Washington Sr. at Gallier Hall.

Mitch Landrieu seemed to enjoy his final Mardi Gras as mayor, arriving on horseback flanked by members of the Sheriff's Department, toasting King Zulu and Queen Zulu from the podium at the newly renovated Gallier Hall, hailing New Orleans by its arguable nickname, "Hollywood South," and introducing celebrities viewing the parade from the Grand Stands (including actresses currently in the city filming episodes of the TV show Claws), and giving speeches to Mardi Gras revelers from all over, Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell (who also arrived on horseback) and the denizens of the city of New Orleans. He proclaimed New Orleans as a city where "diversity is a strength, not a weakness," and much of that diversity was on display in the streets below.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu walks with members of the Zulu Rascals during the Zulu parade on Mardi Gras day. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Mayor Mitch Landrieu walks with members of the Zulu Rascals during the Zulu parade on Mardi Gras day.

The advertised theme of this year's parade was about celebrating the city's tricentennial, but other than the title float, there were no overt references to the anniversary. Other than those dedicated to signature Zulu characters, the floats bore representations of a hodgepodge of ideas, including Halloween, children's story characters and underwater creatures. However, watching the parade, one could argue that it's not about the vessels that carry Zulu's hundreds of riders, but about the spirit and the excitement and the energy that those riders display while peppering waiting crowds with throws.

Saints players Michael Thomas, Cam Jordan, Justin Hardee and Ted Ginn Jr. were a few of the parade's celebrity guest riders. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Saints players Michael Thomas, Cam Jordan, Justin Hardee and Ted Ginn Jr. were a few of the parade's celebrity guest riders.

The parade was chock full of celebrity guests, including New Orleans Saints players, zydeco legend Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and bounce queen Big Freedia, who despite her usual flamboyance opted to mask just like the other riders on the float.

Zydeco legend Rockin' Dopsie Jr. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Zydeco legend Rockin' Dopsie Jr.

Celebrity grand marshal Spike Lee led the parade, and even tossed a few hand-decorated throws to Mayor Landrieu.

Director Spike Lee, the parade's celebrity grand marshal, tosses a coconut to Mayor Mitch Landrieu at Gallier Hall. - PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY KATHERINE M. JOHNSON
  • Director Spike Lee, the parade's celebrity grand marshal, tosses a coconut to Mayor Mitch Landrieu at Gallier Hall.

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