Even with the ever spectacular floats, sought-after throws and amusing sub-krewes, parade goers often get most excited when they see the purple and gold of St. Aug’s Marching 100. The band at the all-boys Catholic St. Augustine High School started in 1952 with Edwin Harrell Hampton as band director and 20 musicians.
Hampton would lead the band for 50 years. By 1962, the band had grown to become the “Marching 100.” Its roots in Carnival started in 1962 when the band marched for the first time in the Zulu parade. But the band’s most important march came in 1967 when St. Aug marched for the Rex parade, integrating Mardi Gras parades for the first time. Until then, the only African Americans in the parades were the Flambeaux. Members recall the march itself as being tense – they were yelled at and pushed. But the march opened the door for other krewes to invite other African American bands to march in their parades like McDonogh 35 and Walter L. Cohen.
Since then, the band has grown to 128, and performed at the Superbowl, the Rose Bowl Parade, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and for Pope John Paul II.
On Fat Tuesday, the band now divides its time between Zulu and Rex, marching at the front of each krewe's parade in alternate years.