Celebrating what would have been Joan of Arc’s 606th birthday, the Joan of Arc parade marks its 10th year on Twelfth Night — Saturday, Jan. 6.
In honor of the beginning of New Orleans’ tricentennial celebrations, this year’s parade will be special in many ways, the most notable of which will be the attendance of a special delegation of government officials and staff from Orleans, France. The group will be in town to celebrate the signing of an official sister city agreement with New Orleans on Jan. 4.
“We were a significant part of the journey leading to this partnership,” said Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc founder and captain Amy Kirk Duvoisin. “The mayor of Orleans has been talking about attending our parade for a while now, and it's finally happening.”
Duvoisin said she studied Orleans’ Jeanne d'Arc festival and parade when creating her parade. “So this is a great honor — to be recognized by our mentors and to form a relationship with them,” she said.
This year’s parade will be the first to include 10 Joans of Arc, portraying the famed warrior from age 13 as a shepherdess to her death as an angel. It also will be the first time all members of its royalty will be on horseback, including this year’s Maid of (New) Orleans, Martha Pinney, a sophomore at Louise McGehee School, who is the only child to have walked in every parade since its inception.
The French Quarter walking parade starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at Toulouse and Decatur streets and features more than 400 participants who celebrate the life of “The Maid of New Orleans” through costumed characters, props, large puppets, music and a wide array of unique and handmade throws, including limited hand-sewn Joan of Arc dolls and decorated wooden swords.
From its inaugural days of 50 paraders to today’s elaborate event, Duvoisin said one thing hasn’t changed and never will: It’s all about Joan.
“We have managed to maintain the purity of the parade while making it grander and more of a spectacle,” she said, “but the sincerity and authenticity has not been lost.”
Joan of Arc Parade
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: Starts at the corner of Toulouse and Decatur streets, winds around the French Quarter and ends at approximately 8:30 p.m. at Washington Artillery Park