300 participatory krewes

The Society of St. Anne marches in New Orleans.

The Rolling Elvi, the Pussyfooters, the Merry Antoinettes and dozens of other organic marching Mardi Gras groups are just the latest version of a Mardi Gras that has always required crowd participation.

The Rolling Elvi, the Pussyfooters, the Merry Antoinettes and dozens of other organic marching Mardi Gras groups are just the latest version of a Mardi Gras that has always required crowd participation.

“It’s the most diverse and democratic celebration on the planet,” says Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy. Hardy says the first Mardi Gras “parades” were people in costumes walking to a masked ball on Mardi Gras. Organized parades took the celebration to the streets, but groups off the beaten parade route have persisted, keeping the celebration open for all. Today, the Society of St. Anne, the Red Bean Parade, Krewe du Vieux and Chewbacchus are just a few of the groups that mingle with the crowds and welcome all comers.

The marching groups that march within established parade routes, like the MuffaLottas, Sirens and Fleurs, have sprung up largely since 2001 when Muses first paraded. The marching groups give people of all ages and income a chance to march. The Pussyfooters don’t allow any members younger than 30. And each year, the number of the participatory groups grow.