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Rex Duke’s Mardi Gras parade reviews 

Best overall parade, best superkrewe, best suburban parade and more

click to enlarge mg_2016_014.jpg

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

Hail, Mardi Gras revelers! Carnival had a very sweet 2016.

  Carnival saw the addition of a new group, the all-female Krewe of Pandora in Jefferson Parish, and many krewes celebrated milestone years. The Krewe of Proteus marked its 135th anniversary by revisiting one of its early themes. Endymion marked its golden anniversary. Le Krewe d'Etat turned 20, and Excalibur marked its 15th year.

  There were all sorts of parade themes, including elegant, historic and literary themes from old line krewes, biting satire in a ripe political season and fun pop cultural inspirations from a host of Carnival organizations. Below are my reviews of parades in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. Until next year, farewell.

Parades are arranged by score (and alphabetically within each rating).


Best Overall Parade

Best Day Parade

Best Night Parade

Best Superkrewe Parade

Best Suburban Parade


Rex went green in a crowd-pleasing way with a theme highlighting ancient and mythical gardens, such as the Garden of Eden, the gardens of Versailles, floating gardens of Xochimilco, Boboli Gardens, the Garden of Mughal and many more. Detailed figures on top of the floats included the white dragon on the Garden of Majestic Clear Lake and the wolf nursing Romulus and Remus on Gardens of Lucullus. The idea perfectly suited the krewe's use of brilliant color and paper flowers, bringing depth and movement to the surfaces of the floats. There were medallion beads and pillows matching each theme float. The band lineup included those from Tulane University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Slidell's Salmen High School, Monroe's Carroll High School and Warren Easton Charter High School. Overall, it was a not-so-simple original idea executed with excellent detail and color. It brought a breath of fresh air to Carnival.


Spirits soared at Bacchus' "Flights of Delight" parade. Theme floats glorified flight in brilliant color depicting "On Butterfly Wings," "Phoenix," "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" and "The Flying Dutchman." "Santa's Christmas Flight" didn't seem as original an idea for a Carnival float, but it didn't detract from an otherwise well-illustrated theme. Riders tossed a wide array of throws, including Bacchawoppa-, Bacchagator- and Bacchasaurus-themed molded drink holders. There also were stuffed animals matching theme floats, light-up swords, necklaces, masks and more. Stand-out marching bands included those from Landry-Walker College and Career Prepatory High School, Sophie B. Wright Charter School, McDonogh 35 Senior High School, Roots of Music, George Washington Carver High School and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School. The theme was uplifting, fun and well executed, and the many matching throws complemented the flight plan.


With the satirical parade "The Dictator Plays Games," Le Krewe d'Etat wasn't fooling around with its 20th parade. Featuring many twists on board games, it skewered everything from the Confederate monument controversy ("Trivial Pursuit"), the city's problems with water boiling advisories ("Drinking Games"), Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' platform ("Candyland") and the spree of robberies at Uptown restaurants ("Risk"). The krewe's Dancin' Dawlins marched in bald-headed costumes as "Mitch's Dancing Monuments." The strong lineup of bands included a Marine Corps band, Brother Martin High School, Chalmette High School, De La Salle High School, St. Mary's Dominican High School and Tulane University's band, which performed the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's "My Feet Can't Fail Me Now." Original throws included light-up plastic femur bones, puzzles, blinking Dictator medallions, parade bulletins and more. The parade showed d'Etat at the top of its game.


The Krewe of Endymion showed crowds something old and something new for its 50th parade. The krewe's newest addition is the signature Club Endymion float, which is shaped like the Superdome and has large video screens in the rear. The float rolled at the end of the procession and previews entertainment at the Endymion Extravaganza. Parade floats depicted past themes, and they included its baseball-themed first ever parade, likenesses of Star Wars characters C-3PO and Darth Vader from a parade celebrating movies and the members of KISS from a theme about rock 'n' roll. The bounty of throws included many anniversary logo items, as well as light-up bouncy balls, light-up wands and necklaces, boas, stuffed animals, throwing discs and more. The band lineup included standouts St. Augustine High School, St. Paul's School and Mississippi Valley State University. The parade itself was an extravaganza befitting the massive organization.


On the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, Hermes turned The Tempest into a parade, featuring characters, lines and scenes from the play. One of Carnival's prettiest floats featured a colorful skull among coral in the "Full Fathom Five" float. Other brightly colored floats with dramatic figures included "Miranda in Love," "Where the bee sucks, there suck I" with a large but delicate flower, "Prospero's Curse" and the broken ship on "The Tempest." Riders wore bright, shiny costumes with a lighted "H" on the chest. The procession was packed with solid bands from Talladega College, Concordia College, St. Augustine High School, Warren Easton Charter High School, George Washington Carver High School, Medard H. Nelson Charter School and Central Union High School from California. Light-up plush lightning bolts were prized throws and there were light-up throwing discs, light-up theme and krewe soft medallions and more. The parade featured beautiful floats, nicely recounting the drama of Shakespeare's tale. Complete with numerous flambeaux and mounted officers, it was an excellent traditional nighttime parade.


Muses' "Sweet 16" parade showed satire can be biting and sweet. A few of the standout jabs included one of Carnival's best Confederate monument jokes (and there were many), featuring Robert E. Lee clutching a box of chocolates, surrounded by lost cause Conversation Hearts candies. President Barack Obama was lampooned on the P(R)EZ float, and many politicians were skewered on the "Whoppers" float. Rider costumes were colorful and creative, incorporating wigs, headdresses, lights and candy. The krewe's typically large cache of diverse throws included signature glittered shoes, coin purses, Muses bags, shoe necklaces, rubber ducks, pencil cases, light-up rings and more. The Lake Area High School and Helen Cox High School bands stepped it up with their dancing, and other notable performances were turned in by St. Augustine High School, Landry-Walker and Edna Karr High School. Muses again proved to be the Uptown parade route's sweethearts.


Named for a musical figure, Orpheus didn't disappoint with its lineup of more than 20 marching bands. It also is known for its use of large paper flowers to decorate floats and often whimsical and spirited themes. This year's "Wizard's Bestiary" rolled out a rogue's gallery of frightful creatures, from the Bogeyman to the mythical giant turtle that carries a city on its back. Fearsome creatures included the Rukh, a giant white bird with a rat in its beak, and the Kraken, represented by a bobbing green-headed creature. The "Good Genie, Evil Genie" float featured a bluish genie on front and an equally grand red one on the back of the float. Some paper flowers featured waving petals around skulls. Marching guests included the dinosaurs and imaginative creatures of Lightwire Theater, as well as the 610 Stompers and Pussyfooters. There were bands from Talladega College, Mississippi Valley State University, St. Augustine High School, St. Mary's Academy, East St. John High School, McMain High School and many others. The krewe threw generously, with large quantities of krewe beads, stuffed animals and vuvuzelas.


On its 135th anniversary, the Krewe of Proteus revisited its 1889 parade, "The Hindu Heavens," and two floats referenced other historic parades: Momus' 1882 "Ramayana" and Comus' 1903 "Mahabharata." But even without footnotes, observers enjoyed the brilliant artistry of the figures on floats featuring Kali, the Goddess of Empowerment, holding a severed head; the blue figure of Varuna, Lord of the Waters; and Bala Krishna, the Divine Child. Most floats featured excellent papier mache flowers and 3-D ornamentation. The krewe's signature Dawn of Proteus (with a giant fish) and king's floats were brilliantly lit and dramatic. The procession included bands ranging from the 9th Ward Marching Band, Roots of Music and Switzerland's Guggenmusic Kamikaze to those of high schools Warren Easton Charter High School, Sophie B. Wright Charter School and Donaldsonville High School. Popular throws included blue plush seahorses, footballs and snap-bracelet-style koozies. The great majority of floats had colorful and detailed figures and flowers, and with traditional flambeaux and mounted officers, the parade was a stunning reminder of Carnival's traditions and early parades.


Babylon's "Enchantment of Transformation" featured many fascinating creatures and tales of change, such as the frogs of Lycia, and Actaeon, who was turned into a stag by Diana in Greek mythology. Impressive figures included the peacock on the "Argos Panoptes" float, the bear on the "Ursa Major" float and the intricate spider on the "Arachno" float. Complementary costumes included snake heads on the "Medusa" float and wild feather headdresses on the "Butterfly Messenger" float. Impressive musical units included the Archbishop Rummel High School marching band, which played "Seven Nation Army," Kansas City, Missouri's Marching Falcons and the Guggenmusic Kamikaze band from Switzerland. Popular throws included light-up beads and rings, cups and doubloons.


The Knights of Chaos delivered a biting satirical parade, and no one was spared. The theme "Chaos Theory" was a witty introduction to a series of social and scientific doctrines. Some of the best floats included a beanie-wearing Mayor Mitch Landrieu leading the New Orleans City Council on the issue of bike lanes and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman surrounded by money bags on "Theory of Justice." While Bruce Jenner's transformation to Caitlyn Jenner is fair game, the humor on the "Theory of Evolution" rehashed tired homophobia and transphobia. This krewe is capable of more clever material. There were notable band performances by Roots of Music and Lafayette Academy. Plush swords and light-up beads were popular throws.


The krewe's signature use of foil was well-suited to its theme of "Champagne Kisses & Foil-Wrapped Wishes." Many floats were adorned with moons and astrological figures, and float titles were twists on songs, such as "Wish Upon a Star." The "Dat's Amore" featured hearts and a moon — with a Star Wars TIE fighter on it. The parade's dozen bands included those from St. Augustine High School, Sophie B. Wright Charter School, Medard H. Nelson Charter and Mississippi Delta Community College. Towers High School from Georgia played "My Boo." Krewe cups, chips, individual float doubloons and T-shirts were among the bounty of throws. While not a huge parade, there was great thought and quality to its components.


The Krewe of Nyx grew to superkrewe size with more than 2,200 riders and almost 40 floats. Largesse can work well in some areas, such as the quantity of marching units its parade featured (Nyxettes, Muff-a-lottas, Pussyfooters, 610 Stompers, Try Athletes and others). Throws were varied and extremely plentiful, including purses, smartphone cases, light-up bouncing balls, large beads and more. The theme "Nyx Turns 5" included all sorts of phrases or groups of things associated with the number five, such as Olympic rings, food groups and the Jackson Five. Clever floats echoing the krewe's love of fashion included "Chanel No. 5" and "Shopping on Fifth Avenue." Riders on the "Cinqo de Mayo" float distributed light-up maracas. But creativity seemed to sputter with floats such as "Five Vowels," "Fifth President" (James Monroe) and "Fifth State" (Connecticut). Most floats were tandem floats, and too often, the second float matched neither the theme nor colors of the front float. Hats and costumes were impressive and varied. Five Happiness owner Paggy Lee rode as grand marshal, and it was hard not to notice that a Five Happiness float followed early in the lineup. The krewe obviously invested plenty of effort and resources into the parade and riders were excited and generous with throws, but the krewe is growing fast and attention to detail suffered.


Sometimes winging it pays off. The Krewe of Thoth launched an entertaining parade theme titled "Things With Wings," and it featured everything from chicken wings to "Wing Nets," with nets dragging from the back of a fishing boat — and riders completed the concept with yellow fishermen outfits. The "Back to the Future" float featured a DeLorean prop and Doc hung from a clock tower. Among the strong costumes were knights on the dragon float and conductor outfits on the "Hummingbird Express." Riders generously threw swords, shirts, koozies, medallion beads, krewe capes and other items. Impressive bands included those of Tulane University, KIPP Renaissance High School, Guggenmusic Kamikaze from Switzerland and Kentwood High School, which played "Uptown Funk."


Zulu introduced new signature floats for its king, queen and many characters, and the theme marked the centennial of the social aid and pleasure club's incorporation. Fittingly, many of its traditions were carried on with flying colors. Royal costumes were stunning and crowds loved the marching Soulful Warriors, as well as the New Orleans Baby Dolls. The parade also featured an impressive array of marching bands, including St. Augustine's Marching 100, St. Paul's School marching band and Shaw High School's band. Throws included signature Zulu coconuts, some decorated with crowns and feathers, as well as Zulu Warrior-themed beads, plush roses, hula hoops, stuffed animals and more. While a float dedicated to Louis Armstrong (King Zulu 1949) celebrated the krewe's history, many other floats were not related, including the ones featuring Bugs Bunny, Frankenstein's monster and Sea World.


Star Wars infiltrated Carnival this season, and it's not surprising a group of Stormtroopers and Darth Vader led a parade celebrating famous stories. Floats depicted Treasure Island and Anthony and Cleopatra. Crowds liked the giant Buzz Lightyear figure on the Toy Story float, and the web on the Charlotte's Web float was notable. Riders on the "Peter Rabbit" float wore big rabbit ears, and maid costumes also worked in stories, such as Where the Wild Things Are. Band highlights included Riverside Academy playing the Beach Boys' "I Get Around," and the Haynes High School band playing the theme from Rocky. Caesar threw plenty of beads, and other items included light-up foam tubes.


The Krewe of Iris gets around, which it celebrated with the theme, "Iris Goes To ..." Floats depicted New Orleans Saints games, casino trips, drinks and bars and more. Floats and costumes were colorful throughout, and wigs often matched floats' main color. The Cornell College Pandemonium band performed and there were marching bands from Sophie B. Wright Charter School, ReNEW Academy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School. Krewe members threw generously and popular items included krewe sunglasses and Mardi Gras beads that resembled the old glass bead throws. Overall, it was a bright and colorful parade from a very traditional all-female krewe.


The Krewe of King Arthur applied its sharp wit to personalities frequently in the media with a funny original theme, "Classified Information," a take on things one might find in classified advertising. "Donald Chump" was an easy target, and there was a float with a personal ad for Bruce Jenner. The Abraham Lincoln float also was popular. The krewe introduced a large new title float with a dragon mounted on it. The parade's 15 bands included Sophie B. Wright Charter School, Lake Area New Tech Early College High School and Eleanor McMain Secondary School. Theme float riders threw generously, and items such as footballs, doubloons and dolls were popular.


New Orleanians have a lot of neighborhood pride, and some may have needed a good sense of humor to enjoy "Tucks Visits the Hood," the krewe's funny and sometimes edgy gloss on the area. Calling Mid-City the "Home of the big box stores" was a funny crack, and there were good floats poking fun at the Warehouse District and Orleans Parish Prison. A little more off color was a float declaring the Northshore a capital for crystal methamphetamine. The parade rolls with a loose and rambunctious sense of humor, typified by its Funky Tucks signature float and throws including toilet paper, squirting toilets, decorated plungers and more. Marching groups such as the Disco Amigos and Krewe of Kolossos fit the procession. There were good performances by bands from South Plaquemines High School, James M. Singleton Charter School and General Trass High School.

With many young riders, the Krewe of Adonis put on a pleasant, family-friendly daytime parade. The theme "Adonis Lightens Up" rounded up notions of relaxation, including "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere," "Fishing Trips," "Labor Day Rest" and "After the School Bell." Costumes were uneven, with several floats featuring riders in many different outfits. Mask wearing isn't a priority with the krewe. The parade had a lineup of high school and younger bands, including Joseph S. Clark High School, White Castle High School, Algiers Technical Academy, Langston Hughes Academy and Phyllis Wheatley's Marching Catahoulas.

The Krewe of Alla paid tribute to American Icons, and notable floats featured Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Babe Ruth, and while some of those figures are not uncommon in Carnival parades, the floats were well done throughout the procession. Costumes generally matched float themes. Alla always fields a good allotment of bands, and notable units represented St. Augustine High School, West Jefferson, Edna Karr and L.W. Higgins high schools. Riders were generous throughout, and alligators, footballs, throwing discs and doubloons were popular throws.

The Krewe of Argus tried to get its parade trending with the theme "#ArgusLuvsMillennials." Many floats displayed hashtags reflecting their theme, though many floats were not particularly Internet related, including commercial floats. The krewe worked Internet lingo, images, emoji, "like" buttons and such into the costumes of the maids, which was a decent link to the theme. Standout bands included East Jefferson High School's marching band. Krewe members were generous with beads.

The Krewe of Athena topped its 2015 debut parade with the theme "Athena Tops Dat." The procession included floats titled "Top of the Class," "Top of the Charts" and "Top of the Game." Some riders complemented the theme with top hats and graduation caps on the "Top of the Class" float. Also tops was the krewe's generosity with throws. Paradegoers received fedoras, krewe logo tambourines, LED scepters, foam swords, throwing discs, blinking rings and polystone medallion beads. Notable marching band performances were presented by Landry-Walker College and Career Prepatory High School and Scotland Magnet High School from Baton Rouge.

Carrollton's celebrated the seasons, and float highlights included the sno ball stand on the "Sno Ball Season" float and the "Theater Season" float. The Mr. Bingle figure's appearance on a Christmas float was popular with the crowd. Riders costumes matched float themes and almost all riders wore masks. Standout performances were turned in by bands from a KIPP school and St. Paul's School. The krewe was consistently generous with throws, including boots, swords, footballs and doubloons.

The Archbishop Rummel High School marching band led a parade saluting the namesake gods and heroes of other Carnival krewes, such as Endymion, Hermes and Nyx. The Iris float featured a pretty purple female figure and irises all around. A Morpheus figure featured lit eyes. The band from Riverside Academy offered a rendition of The Beach Boys' "I Get Around." Popular throws included light-up foam tubes, doubloons and cups.

The Krewe of Choctaw's "Alphabet Soup" parade celebrated an odd assortment of things. There was "S is for Shakespeare," who was all over Carnival this year, on the 400th anniversary of his death, and "H is for Hats Off to the Office." There was a decent lineup of bands and Edna Karr High School looked sharp. Riders wore Native American-themed costumes. Not in line with the krewe's iconography or any float, however, were a few throws of Confederate flag beads, which were captured on social media. Members should have stuck to more popular krewe throws, such as krewe bouncy balls, thowing discs, footballs and plush toys.

The Krewe of Cleopatra's parade featured many fine marching bands, including those of St. Augustine High School at the head of the parade, McMain High School, Edna Karr High School, Belle Chasse High School, L.W. Higgins High School, George Washington Carver High School and others. It was fitting for a parade with a musical theme, "Rocking the Big Easy." Floats illustrated songs including "Mardi Gras Mambo," "Margaritaville" and "Y.M.C.A." Many riders wore lit hats or facemasks, and the riders of the "Christmastime in New Orleans" float wore light-up Christmas tree hats, a good example of the krewe's creative individual float accents. Notable walking units included stilt-walkers in Egyptianesque costumes and the Krewe des Fleurs, with light-up petal outfits.

The Krewe of Druids presented a parade titled "Druids Behaves," a likely reference to controversy stirred by a handful of floats in its 2015 parade. The krewe seemed to suggest that behaving is boring, as the first few inclusions, titled "Red Float," "Blue Float" and "Sun Float," were conspicuously artless and generic. A riderless trailer featured a chalkboard with the repeated line "I will be a good Druid," and the word "not" was inserted in a couple places. Float No. 14 featured the foul-mouthed Eric Cartman from South Park and the title "F—this—t." The following floats featured a Dixie beer can, a "Native American Float" and "Native American Hater Float" with a military figure that appeared to be Gen. Andrew Jackson. Overall, it was a defiant act of contrition as a theme. The krewe's riders wore standard black robes with pointed wizard hats. Signature floats including the Druids Tree and Archdruid float looked excellent. There were several marching units, including Gris Gris Strut and the Organ Grinders, and Cornell College's Pandemonium band performed on one float. Druids could improve its parade by adding more marching bands. Rex Duke counted less than five.

The Krewe of Excalibur celebrated its 15th anniversary with a look back at previous parades. Riders on the "Haunted Knight" float wore Frankenstein masks and riders on the "Knight Time Stories" float wore Cat in the Hat costumes. Other theme floats included "A Knight at the Castle" and "A Knight of Rock and Roll," but they were interspersed between a large number of floats carrying krewe royalty. As usual, krewe maids wore tall, pretty collars/headpieces. Impressive band performances included Alfred Bonnabel High School's "Iko Iko" and Patrick F. Taylor's "Funkytown." The New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy band looked sharp in its military uniforms. Popular throws included wooden nickels, stuffed animals and krewe vuvuzelas.

Femme Fatale
Leading a lineup of four parades in Uptown New Orleans, the Krewe of Femme Fatale celebrated famous theme parks such as the Magic Kingdom. The colorful Legoland float was among impressive inclusions. The band lineup featured McDonogh 35 Senior High School, Langston Hughes Academy and L.W. Higgins High School. The parade also had music coming from DJs riding floats, and generally they didn't wear costumes or participate in the parade or float theme. Many riders also passed on wearing masks. The procession's plentiful throws included light-up necklaces, umbrellas and makeup accoutrements.

The Krewe of Freret promotes a make-it-yourself approach to a float parade, but it is best expressed through marching groups such as the Dames de Perlage, who make Mardi Gras bead-dazzled corsets, the Bearded Oysters and the krewe's signature subkrewe of Mexican wrestlers, El Lucha Krewe. The parade was led by Dancing Man 504 and WWL-TV reporter Tamica Lee rode as a guest. The theme "Third Time's a Charm" worked in floats featuring a werewolf on a "Creature Triple Feature" float, and other floats featured Frankenstein's monster and Dracula.

"Isis Celebrates the Seasons" featured many local favorites, with floats depicting sno balls, festivals such as the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival and more. Riders on the "Crawfish Season" float wore aprons and chefs' toques, nicely complementing the theme. Riders on the "Carnival Season" float wore jester hats. Attractive floats also included the "Tarpon Rodeo" with a large blue fish figure. The parade had four "Mademoiselle and Escort" floats that seemed like they could use a bit more decoration, but the king and queen looked sharp in their traditional royalty outfits. The band lineup included Ponchatoula High School at the front of the parade, plus Grace King High School, John Curtis Christian High School, Hammond High Magnet School and Belle Chasse Academy. Stuffed animals were popular throws.

Morpheus' "Staycation" parade highlighted a slew of local attractions and pastimes, many of which are familiar Carnival float subjects. They included the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, celebrating Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day, watching the New Orleans Zephyrs baseball team and enjoying cocktails. Costumes such as fish hats on the aquarium float riders helped keep things fresh. WWL-TV's Sheba Turk and Mike Hoss rode as special guests. The parade featured bands from Archbishop Shaw High School, General Trass High School, Mitchell High School from Tennessee and the Guggenmusic Kamikaze band from Switzerland, but the procession could have used more bands. Popular throws included light-up yo-yos and wands, alligator clappers and more.

N.OM.T.O.C. celebrated "The Best Things in Life," and theme floats depicted a "New York Shopping Spree," "Achieving Perfection" in the Olympics, "Sunny Days," and dogs on the "My Best Friend" float. The "Trip Around the Sun" float with a rocket ship seemed to make less sense. Many of the krewe's officers and royalty dressed in formal attire and some added masks or headdresses, but the king, queen and their many pages and maids looked great in traditional costumes. An increasingly common sight in Carnival parades is that of a DJ riding a float, making use of a laptop or microphone. In this parade, there was one who managed to wear the float costume and another who didn't wear any costume. The parade had more than a dozen marching bands, including those from Southern University, Landry-Walker College and Career Prepatory High School, Edna Karr High School, Shaw High School from Cleveland, Ohio, West Jefferson High School, KIPP Central City Academy and others. Riders threw generously, and popular items included stuffed animals, plush roses, swords, throwing discs, butterfly wings and more.

The Corps of Napoleon's theme of jet setting featured floats depicting London, Paris, Las Vegas, New York's Broadway and Napa Valley. But the krewe's signature elements shone brighter, particularly the lighting and props on the Captain's and Emperor's floats, and the "Waterloo" title float, which features a confetti cannon. The krewe's maids all wore large, pretty plumed collars and four rode horse-drawn wagons. Many riders on theme floats did not wear masks. New to the parade was the Iron Horse Mardi Gras Indians contingent at the front of the lineup. The parade also included a good number of bands, with notable performances by Fontainebleau High School, Chalmette High School, East St. John High School, Westgate High School from New Iberia and Algiers Technical Academy.

It seems best to do a horror/monster parade at night, but "Okeanos Puts on a Fright," scared up an entertaining parade. The Chucky and Tiffany — Bride of Chucky floats were fearsome. The props on the "Cemetery Gates" float were nicely rendered. Playful costumes often accented the float themes well, such as the wigs worn by riders on the "Bride of Frankenstein" float and the werewolf masks on the "Werewolf" float. The band of St. Pius X School contributed a rendition of "Thriller," and other notable bands represented Helen Cox High School and James M. Singleton Charter School.

Highlights of the Oshun parade included the St. Mary's Academy marching band leading the procession, sharp costumes on the king and queen and floats such as the Seahorse float with two large pink seahorses in front of a shell, illustrating the "Under the Sea" theme. Tee Eva and Ernie K-Doe's Baby Dolls were a fun addition to the lineup. Oshun's many Goddesses and krewe officers mix formalwear and feathered collars, some of which looked sharp. Many riders shed their masks, leaving some theme floats' costumes inconsistent. Several floats' lights weren't working. But there were fine performances by bands from Cohen College Prep, Sophie B. Wright Charter School and Langston Hughes Academy.

The Krewe of Pandora opened a box of goodies at its premiere in Metairie. Members distributed hand-decorated glittered boxes to lucky paradegoers. Among the 16 floats in the parade were "To Be a Musician" and "To Become a Brilliant Writer," and floats featured pretty painted flowers. Standout performances were turned in by bands from Langston Hughes Academy, KIPP Leadership Academy, Grace King High School and Lafayette Academy. Popular throws included spears and doubloons.

The Krewe of Pontchartrain often uses quiz questions as titles. This year's parade challenged viewers to guess state nicknames, and there were amusing floats for New Jersey, "The Garden State" (with a cornucopia prop) and New York with the Statue of Liberty (and riders in gorilla outfits). The Hawaii float featured a rainbow and riders wore grass skirts. Everyone knows which state celebrates Carnival, but the finale in the procession was for Missouri, the "Show Me" state, and it featured the figure of a woman flashing her breasts. The flashing is a disappointing way to represent Carnival, and this is an odd choice for a daytime parade. The procession included bands from Holy Cross High School and KIPP Central City Academy. Throws included 3-D krewe magnets, footballs, plush fish and leis from the Hawaii float.

The Krewe of Pygmalion saluted the gods and figures of Carnival, notably Bacchus, and the riders threw generously, particularly spears and light-up beads, making the parade a pleasant celebration of Carnival itself. The procession even had a few impromptu moments, such as the Tulane University marching band performing "Happy Birthday" for a spectator with a sign declaring it her birthday. Unfortunately, it seems many masks were shed in what must have been moments of distraction.

Sparta's adherence to tradition harks to Carnival parades of yore. A king's float pulled by four horses always is going to impress Rex Duke. The theme devoted to musicals is a more contemporary approach (and quite familiar), and crowds enjoyed floats celebrating popular entertainment, including the shows Spamalot, Shrek The Musical and Dr. Seuss. The band lineup included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School, New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School and East St. John's High School, which performed Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer." Popular throws included soft Spartan helmets and light-up rings.

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