mardi gras beads stodk

Advocate file photo of Mardi Gras beads

The 2020 Mardi Gras season will bring a new parade and festival to north Baton Rouge.

The Krewe of Oshun parade rolls at noon Saturday, Feb. 8, with the festival to follow. The inaugural theme is "Wakanda Now: Celebration, Prosperity and Expansion."

The festival, with live music, carnival games, cooking and eating contests, community resources and vendors, will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The krewe's goals are to encourage people to visit north Baton Rouge and to establish a quality, new Mardi Gras parade for the city, says Byron Washington, chairman of NBRNow, the organization behind the new parade. NBRNow is an organization promoting grassroots development and advocacy of north Baton Rouge neighborhoods.

"We want to have the whole city" come to north Baton Rouge, Washington says. "It will be festival season, people like going to Mardi Gras parades, and the great thing about Baton Rouge parades is that they're family-friendly. Baton rouge is built on families, of all backgrounds, making up this community."

This is the first Mardi Gras parade in north Baton Rouge. The area does host a Christmas parade, and Southern University's homecoming parade is always a popular draw. Krewe of Oshun joins Mid City Gras, which started in 2018, in becoming the newest Baton Rouge Mardi Gras parades in more than a decade.

In the works for about three years, Washington says, NBRNow hopes to use the Krewe of Oshun as one tool to help brand the north Baton Rouge community. Krewe of Oshun will be used to recognize the area, expose people to a large, diverse part of Baton Rouge and offer one more Mardi Gras celebration to the city.

"We want this to grow to something that's going to be talked about for decades on end," Washington says. "The main thing for us is that it's a community-based event. It's not anything bureaucratic or top-down. It's engaging with people from all parts of the community to make sure that it reflects Baton Rouge."

The proposed Krewe of Oshun route will start at the intersection of Harding Boulevard and Pembroke Street. The parade will head west down Harding Boulevard, turn south on Scenic Highway and then turn onto 72nd Avenue, ending at Howell Boulevard.

Registration to participate in the Krewe of Oshun parade and festival is now open. To ride in the official Krewe of Oshun float (only 40 spots available) is $300; admission for those providing their own float is $300; festival vendor participation is $200; and registration is free for non-profit and informational organization. 

Krewe of Oshun is also seeking sponsorships.

More information can be found by calling (225) 963-0801 and online at facebook.com/kreweofoshunbr.

Email Jake Clapp at jclapp@theadvocate.com.