Mardi Gras can be as early as Feb. 3 or as late as March 9. This year’s Feb. 9 celebration is a rare one indeed. Fat Tuesday hasn’t fallen on that date since 1937. Since early Carnival seasons don’t coincide with college spring breaks, visitorship is predicted to be down slightly.
Two stories top the news for 2016: the 50th anniversary of Endymion and the explosion in membership of the Krewe of Nyx, which now boasts more than 2,200 members. Krewe membership is up across the board in Orleans Parish.
The talk of the town in mid-January was the all-time-late announcements of the identities of celebrity monarchs for Bacchus and Orpheus. Former Warren Easton and NOCCA student Anthony Mackie will reign as the first African-American Bacchus. Orpheus waited until Monday to announce that “Castle” star Nathan Fillion will be its monarch.
Endymion unveiled Steven Tyler and Pitbull as their post-parade Extravaganza headliners in early September. The pair will not ride in the parade, however.
Law enforcement officials promise that new surveillance technology and an enhanced police presence will lead to the “most security-heavy Carnival in New Orleans history this year.”
The extensive road construction projects Uptown will not affect parade routes.
The growing trend for personalized throws continues as clubs develop krewe-specific, float-specific, and even theme-specific items. Once-popular cups, doubloons, and ordinary beads have lost their luster for many paradegoers.
With the demise of the 67-year-old Krewe of Grela, the West Bank is left with two parades, Adonis and NOMTOC. In 1994, 14 parades rolled on that side of the river.
Two new krewes join the St. Tammany Parish parade calendar in 2016. The “Original Orpheus” in Mandeville makes a comeback after a three-year hiatus. The club has 175 members and will roll on Friday, Feb. 5. The Krewe of Poseidon staged a very impressive debut parade with a coed membership of 475 in Slidell on Jan. 10.
Unlike the “Order of Isis,” a Mobile, Alabama, parading club that changed its name in reaction to events in the Middle East, the Metairie-based Krewe of Isis proclaimed, “We are proud American women who support our military and are grateful for their service. To change our name would be disrespectful to our troops.”
The Corps de Napoleon has moved to the first weekend of the parade season — 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31. This should be a big boost to the final day of Family Gras.
Now that the Krewe of Atlas has gone out of business, Metairie has lost its four oldest clubs, which accounted for 177 years of parading tradition — Zeus (1958), Rhea (1969), Atlas (1970) and Thor (1975).
Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center lost another ball as the Krewe of Iris has moved its annual gala to the New Orleans Hilton Riverside.
Metairie gains the new female Krewe of Pandora on Lundi Gras at 7 p.m. This has been a problematic night in Metairie in recent years with the demise of Zeus. Two other krewes, Hera and Atlantis, were given permits for that night, but neither ever paraded. The new Pandora is a spin-off of the highly successful Krewe of Nyx in New Orleans. Three new clubs may apply for permits for the 2017 Metairie parade calendar, reversing a negative trend for Carnival in Jefferson Parish.
Repairs to Gallier Hall are complete, and the facility returns as the city’s official reviewing stand. However, the Municipal Auditorium is still not ready for use by Carnival krewes.
We may see the first live feeds of Mardi Gras parades on the Internet from drones in 2016.
The Mardi Gras Indians received a $500,000 grant from Art-Place America to create a center that will study and preserve the traditions of this time-honored New Orleans African-American tradition.
The Krewe of Hermes has joined the Rex and Muses Carnival organizations as a major player in philanthropy efforts in post-Katrina New Orleans, launching “Hermes — Beyond the Parade.” The nonprofit was formed to support first responders and to address the region’s ongoing struggles with violent crime.
Early childhood education, workforce development and mentorship opportunities are areas of particular interest to the Hermes BTP organization.