With Valentine's Day falling this weekend, there's more than a little excitement in the air. But I, Rex Duke™, am most fond of parades, and we can all warm to a weekend filled with Carnival processions and camaraderie. What's not to love?
My parade previews for the first weekend include information on krewes, floats, honored royalty, guest riders, signature throws, routes and more. Be sure to note that Carnival organizations on the West Bank will follow a new route from Algiers to Gretna.
The first weekend of parades is truly the beginning of something wonderful. Enjoy.
Friday, Feb. 13
Theme: Story Time Rhymes
King Shango: Reneé Thomas
Queen Oshun: Dominique Alexandra Thomas
Throws: Medallion beads and logo cups
The Krewe of Oshun's parade theme "Story Time Rhymes" provides
families with good childhood memories. With floats including "The Itsy
Bitsy Spider" and "Old King Cole," the city's first float parade of the
season will please both young and old souls.
Location: West Bank
Theme: It's Five O'Clock Somewhere
Queen Cleopatra: Dana Hock Blondiau
Throws: Signature Cleopatra dolls, plush animals, sunglasses, Queen's cups and light-up mugs
Members of this all-women krewe know, as their theme suggests, "It's
Five O'Clock Somewhere," and they waste no time kicking off the
Carnival revelry on the West Bank. Liquor will roll through the streets
in the form of several drink-inspired floats like "White Russian,"
"Pink Lady" and "Mai Tai."
Theme: A Knight in Camelot
King: Phil Fricano
Queen: Sandra Guarisco
Throws: Fiber-optic logo beads, plush swords, stuffed castles, doubloons and logo cups.
The Krewe of Excalibur doesn't want anyone to forget "once there was a spot known as Camelot," so it has chosen the famous musical as the theme for its eighth annual parade. Excalibur's Broadwayesque costumes pair well with floats carrying the titles of show tunes, including "The Lusty Month of May," "Camelot" and "If Ever I Would Leave You."
Theme: It's Been Ten Years Dawlin' and We Love N'awlins
King: Robert Leblanc
Queen: Terry Lyle Mcintosh
Throws: Light-up silicon logo beads, light-up medallion beads, doubloons and signature cups
With age comes forgetfulness, so when it takes to the streets this season the Krewe of Pygmalion — founded in 2000 — wants to remind parade-goers of the innumerable offerings in our city. Among the many beloved New Orleans traditions commemorated on floats: "Snoballs and Roman Candy," "City Park Trains" and "The New Orleans Saints."
Theme: Atlas Takes a Vacation
King: Lynn Brehm
Queen: Melissa Billiot
Throws: Krewe medallions, bobble-head dolls.
Atlas is gambling that revelers will love its choices of high-rolling vacation spots like Las Vegas, the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J., and Louisville's Kentucky Derby for its floats. Other fun spots on floats include the coast of Maine and Washington, D.C.
Saturday, Feb. 14
Location: West Bank
Theme: The Mardi Gras of Love
Chief: John A Dugas Sr.
Princess: Rachel Parson Dugas
Throws: Heart-shaped plush spears, logo heart beads, Frisbees and cups
Choctaw's 300 men, women and children start their 18 float procession in Algiers this year to bring love and beads to the West Bank on Valentine's Day. On its 74th anniversary, its new and longer route begins on Gen. DeGaulle Drive. "The Mardi Gras of Love" features Choctaw's signature "Dink" float along with its colorful "Chief's" float.
Location: West Bank
Theme: Love, Adonis Style
King: Dreux Blank
Queen: Faith Calix
Throws: Logo cups and koozies
The Mystic Knights of Adonis will take parade-goers on a whirlwind honeymoon exploring the many different cultural interpretations of the universal language of love. "Besame Mucho" explores Spanish amor, "The Queen of Hearts" surveys British affection, and "French Kiss" alludes to the passionate symbol of the Francophile.
Theme: Can You Name That Love Song?
King: James G. Caridi
Queen: Deslonde Leonce Valley
Throws: Plush roses, signature heart-medallion beads, Frisbees, footballs and logo cups
Knowledge of love-inspired music will be put to the test during the Krewe of Pontchartrain's parade, which will feature several fill-in-the-blank float titles, including " _Me Tender," "I Just Called to Say I _ You" and _Potion N0.9." The parade also includes a special appearance by the U.S. Naval Drum and Bugle Corps from Annapolis.
Theme: Caesar's Got Game
King: Bernard L. Bonin
Queen: Gabrielle Himbert
Throws: Fiber-optic heart beads, parade-theme beads, plush spears and 30th anniversary doubloons.
Although it rolls on Valentine's Day, the Krewe of Caesar won't play with people's hearts. Its theme, "Caesar's Got Game," is inspired by popular video games. "Halo 3," "Guitar Hero" and "NCAA '09" are a few of its game-inspired floats. American Idol runner-up David Archuleta is this year's grand marshal.
Theme: The Empire of the Sun
King: Secret till day of parade
Queen: Megan Elise Ducote
Throws: Plush Sparta roses, hand-strung medallion beads, plush horses, "mystery" throw
Revelers can expect an out-of-this-world experience when the Knights of Sparta presents its "The Empire of the Sun" parade. Eight of the 14 floats are inspired by planets of our solar system, and while Pluto was kicked out of the club in 2006, the dwarf-planet is expected to make a special appearance. This will be the second year for a Sparta "mystery" throw, which remains a secret, even to its members, until the day of the parade.
Theme: Celebrating New Orleans
King: Bradley Daniel Smith
Queen: Shelley Kenning Hoddinott II
Throws: Plush horses and plush horseshoes
The Krewe of Pegasus continues its long history of parading with a return to basics — celebrating the city of New Orleans past and present. "Mardi Gras," "Audubon Zoo," "St. Charles Avenue Streetcar" and "Ponchartrain Beach" are just a few of the nostalgic sights and sounds that will roll down St. Charles Avenue.
Sunday, Feb. 15
Location: West Bank
Theme: Alla Tells Tall Tales
Maharaja: Toni Reaves
Maharanee: Samantha Ann Taylor
Throws: Mini alligators with bobbling heads, plush roses and red hearts, doubloons in various colors, Captain's wooden nickel, an array of items with krewe emblems
Alla explores myths and folk tales with floats like "The Headless Horseman," "Johnny Appleseed" and "The Legend of Bloody Mary." The procession includes signature floats including "Allagator" and "Coon Ass" as well as guest riders Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, Saints players and Saintsations.
Theme: A Fair To Remember
King: Leonard Joseph Rizzo
Queen: Erin Marie VanGeffen
Throws: Logo beads, silver doubloons and plush dolls of Seymour d'Fair
Seymour d'Fair and the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition make a return to New Orleans for this year's Krewe of Carrollton parade. Those who had an opportunity to see the 1984 World's Fair will remember the exhibits that inspired this year's floats, including "The Louisiana Pavilion," "China" and "The German Beer Garden."
Location: St. Bernard
Royal Knight: Billy Showalter
Goddess: Karen Fecke
Throws: T-shirts, cups, Frisbees and FEMA trailer beads.
The Knights of Nemesis aren't seeking retribution, they're hoping to bring back some joy and fun to St. Bernard. The relatively young krewe rolls this year with 24 floats, including "Rock 'N' Roll Music," "The Masters Golf Tournament" and "The Battle of Vicksburg." Named after the remorseless Greek goddess, the Knights of Nemesis will lampoon FEMA with a special FEMA trailer bead.
Theme: Rhea Knows What it Means to Miss New Orleans
King: Ryck Henry Soto II
Queen: Victoria Anna Walters
Throws: Lighted medallion necklaces, flexi flyers, fleur de lis spirit sticks and cups.
The Krewe of Rhea proves it "Knows What it Means to Miss New Orleans" with floats titled "Jazz Fest," "St. Joseph Altars" and "Beignets and Cafe Au Lait." The Jefferson krewe also knows how important family is to the Carnival season, and four generations of the krewe's founding family, the Sotos, will ride in this year's procession.
Theme: MedEVIL Times Enquirer
King: Joshua A. Bitoun
Queen: JoAnn A. Merse
Throws: Plush dragons, logo beads and Merlin the Magician bobble heads
The Krewe of King Arthur makes headlines this year by parading with a fictional Camelot newspaper as its theme. Its floats bear the names of articles in the paper, including one from the Religion section, "The Mass has Ended," and one from Sports titled "We are tired of Saying, 'Next Year.'" The forecast predicts a good chance of raining beads, with occasional plush dragons.
Theme: Centurions' 30th USA Adventure
King: Herbert LeBlanc
Queen: Kimberlee Ann Robinson
Throws: Cups, koozies, logo beads and doubloons
The floats in the Krewe of Centurions' 30th annual parade will take riders and revelers on a cross-country adventure, stopping to smell a "Yellow Rose of Texas" before getting its kicks on "Route 66" and finally seeing some old friends at "Disney World." Traveling with the krewe will be a float of "Jefferson Heroes."
Oshun 6 p.m. Friday
Pygmalion 7 p.m. Friday
Sparta 6 p.m. Saturday
King Arthur 1:15 p.m. Sunday
Pegasus 6:45 p.m. Saturday
Carrollton noon Sunday
Pontchartrain 2 p.m. Saturday
Excalibur 7 p.m. Friday
Atlas 7:30 p.m. Friday
Caesar 6 p.m. Saturday
Rhea 1 p.m. Sunday
Centurions 5:30 p.m. Sunday
West Bank Parades
Cleopatra 6:30 p.m. Friday
Choctaw 11 a.m. Saturday
Adonis 11:45 a.m. Saturday
Alla noon Sunday
Nemesis 1 p.m. Sunday