On Lundi Gras you can see back-to-back parades that represent the best from two centuries of parading history.
One of the season’s prettiest parades is also one of the oldest and smallest. The 230 men of Proteus are led by the captain on horseback, followed by 30 riding lieutenants and 30 flambeaux. The traditional-style procession this year is titled “Ancient Elements of Alchemy,” and the 20 floats include Earth, Tria Prima, Water and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Royal Artists Inc. constructed the floats on chassis that date from the 1880s. The third float is a replica of the 1882 king’s float. The identity of the man who portrays Proteus is never revealed to the public, but his magnificent seashell float is a knockout. Throws include LED tridents, whistles and bracelets. The men also toss plush seahorses, plush tridents and plain aluminum sovereigns (doubloons).
“Orpheus — The Enchanted World” is this year’s theme of the Orpheus procession that Harry Connick Jr. helped organize 21 years ago. Movie director Quentin Tarantino will ride as monarch this year. Actors John Schneider and James Roday will also ride. The krewe of 1,250 male and female members will occupy 32 floats depicting mythical subjects such as the Fountains of the Deep, Riders of the Wind and Magic’s Morning. Legendary among Orpheus’ floats are the Trojan Horse, Leviathan, the Dolly Trolley and the ever-expanding eight-unit Smokey Mary tandem float, which holds 230 riders. The Chariots of Orpheus will again appear, along with 60 original flambeaux.
This year’s most collectible throws are special 2.5-inch gold “record doubloons” that salute honorary Grand Marshal Fats Domino and many LED items including Smokey Mary beads, fringe Lyre beads, frisbees, rings, wands and earrings. The parade ends inside the Morial Convention Center, where the Orpheuscapade features entertainment by Cheap Trick, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Party Crashers, LPO and the 610 Stompers.
In Metairie, the Krewe of Zeus, Jefferson Parish’s oldest parading organization, celebrates its 57th anniversary this year. Zeus did not parade last year but makes a comeback this year with the theme “Gentlemen, You Have Your Heading.” The parade includes about 40 units and 17 floats in its Lundi Gras evening march.