The final week of the Carnival parade season begins with a big doubleheader on Wednesday night in New Orleans. Both parades feature secret themes.
Starting at 6:30 p.m. is the 16th annual Ancient Druids parade, which has the feel of an old-line parade. The Druids debuted in 1998 to fill an empty slot on the Tuesday parade calendar and later moved to Wednesday.
This unique club is made up of male members of other parading krewes who wished only to ride in a parade and not deal with the traditional ball, queen and court routine. The identity of the Arch Druid — the king — is never made public, and his jester speaks for him at the mayor’s toast at Gallier Hall.
The past three years, the men have poked fun at the Krewe of Nyx, which follows the Druids parade. But this year, the guys promise to behave themselves — sort of.
The parade features 24 floats, including some from the original Druids parades of the 1920s. The club presents 260 men dressed in priestly robes. Signature throws include umbrellas, light-up wands, medallion beads and light-up Druid “wizard” hats. Members of St. Joan of Arc will appear on horseback and on foot in front of the Druids.
Parading behind the Ancient Druids is the Krewe of Nyx, a club that followed in the footsteps of Muses and proved there was room for another female krewe that would parade midweek in New Orleans.
Nyx may be the big story of Carnival 2016. Last summer, the club announced a membership of more than 2,200 women, making it the largest female parading club in history and second only to Endymion in total riders. Never before has a krewe grown so quickly.
In fact, the membership waiting list was so long that the captain decided to sponsor a sister krewe, Pandora, which will roll for the first time on Lundi Gras night in Metairie.
Nyx riders wear costumes that display the club’s name.
The parade will feature nearly 130 units, including the Southern University Marching Band. Nyx logo throws include its signature purses as well as doubloons for the krewe, the captain and officers.
Officially, Nyx features 39 floats, but because many are tandems, the parade really includes about 60 floats. Veteran Carnival observers are predicting it will end early Thursday morning.