Carnival season began more than a month ago, which means at this point, you’ve likely sampled king cakes from your favorite bakeries and tried a savory-style treat. Maybe you’ve even designed a whimsical costume for Fat Tuesday or bought one of those ubiquitous purple, green and gold polo shirts. Bonus points if you’ve witnessed a dance group practicing.
But now it’s time to party. This weekend, a slew of parades will roll in New Orleans, Metairie and Slidell, making it feel official: Mardi Gras is finally here. So get ready to boogie and catch some beads — and maybe even blush a little bit.
Carnival season is upon us ... time to get the maps out.
Friday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.
With 500 members in 19 subkrewes, the brand-new Krewe Boheme rolls from the Lost Love Lounge, 2529 Dauphine St., in Faubourg Marigny, ending in the 700 block of Rampart Street. The inspiration is Paris in the 1920s.
The Joy Theater will be the venue for the post-parade Absinthe Ball.
Krewe du Vieux
Saturday, Feb. 16, 6:30 p.m.
During the raucous celebration known as Krewe du Vieux, 17 subkrewes will present their interpretation of this year’s theme: “The City of Yes, Yes, Oh God, Yes!” Prepare for floats that poke fun at celebrities, along with the scandals and headlines that have had people talking.
“It’s going to be a great mix of local and national stuff, and stuff that’s both,” said Keith Twitchell, the Grand Poobah of Publicity. “The krewes this year have done a great job covering a lot of different bases. The world is going crazy, and we’re doing a good job of making a little satire out of it.”
Blues singer and musician Walter “Wolfman” Washington will reign as king of this not-so-family-friendly celebration.
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Saturday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m.
When krewedelusion was formed 10 years ago, its members declared New Orleans to be the “center of the universe.” This weekend, they’ll explore what they believe is the “center of New Orleans” as they honor Sixth Ward native Lois Andrews Nelson as the ruler of the parade. Parade captain Oscar Diggs described Nelson as a “cultural icon” of Treme, noting in a news release that she helped revive the Gold Digger Baby Dolls — “a group that thrived in 1920s celebrations of Carnival.”
Nelson also will be crowned as the “Mother of Music & Captain of New Orleans,” a nod to famous musician sons James, Troy and Buster Andrews. Her entourage includes the Gold Digger Baby Dolls and members of the Baby Doll Sisterhood.
Krewe of Poseidon
Saturday, Feb. 16, 6 p.m.
The Krewe of Poseidon will get the crowd grooving with this year’s theme, “We Will Rock You.” The throws comprise light-up tambourines, toy microphones, plush trinkets shaped like concert tickets and Frisbees that resemble vinyl records.
Poseidon consists of 625 members and 28 floats. WDSU-TV reporters, Travers and Fletcher Mackel, and WVUE-TV reporters, Shelley Brown and Kim Holden, will reign as the grand marshals. The 610 Stompers, Muff-a-lottas and Disco Amigos dance groups will perform for revelers along the route.
The Krewe of Little Rascals
Sunday, Feb. 17, noon
Now in its 36th year, The Krewe of Little Rascals is the longest-running children's Carnival krewe in the country. Nearly 300 children participate, with many of them riding on traditional floats that represent the parade’s theme, "Little Rascals Loves the Arts and Sciences."
“We also have two jam band floats that everybody loves, because their music is so wonderful,” said Dorothy Cooke, one of the organizers.
Local marching bands, cheerleaders and dance teams, like the Gold Dusters Dance Team, will put on a show. The grand marshals are Rachel Pizzolato and Jesse Lawless — two local teens who are on the Science Channel’s “Mythbusters Jr.” series.
Cooke said the Carnival production requires collaboration amongst the parents.
“We do it for the children,” Cooke said. “We love the kids. I couldn't imagine my life without the Krewe of Little Rascals.”
Krewe of Slidellians
Sunday, Feb. 17, 1 p.m.
Hosted by the Slidell Women’s Civic Club, an organization established in 1947, the Krewe of Slidellians is one of the oldest parades in St. Tammany Parish. It includes 20 floats with all-female riders, along with dance groups and marching bands from nearby schools. One of the organizers, Rosemary Clements, said generous sponsors and fundraisers held throughout the year make the celebration possible.
“We don’t have a big Carnival club,” Clements said. “It’s a family parade.”
Krewe of Perseus
Sunday, Feb. 17, 1:15 p.m.
The 49th annual Perseus parade features 13 full-size floats, dance groups, a marching band and the Slidell Synchronized Lawn Chair Brigade, a performance group that carries embellished — you guessed it — lawn chairs. The krewe’s theme is "Perseus goes to the Circus." Riders will toss baubles and trinkets inspired by the circus, along with Perseus helmets and their signature decorated crab figurines.
Sunday, Feb. 17, 4:30 p.m.
As a Mardi Gras microkrewe, ‘tit Rəx is a one-of-a-kind parade. The tiny floats in this procession are made of shoeboxes, festooned with lights, ornaments and other dazzling decorations. Participants wearing understated outfits, adorned with sashes, pull the floats through the streets of the Marigny and Bywater. This year, 33 floats and four brass bands will parade under the theme: “A Modicum of Decency.”
‘tit Rəx was formed in 2008 by bon vivants who were partially inspired by their elementary school experience of building Mardi Gras floats, using a shoebox as the foundation. The parade is followed by the Ping Pong Ball at The Allways Lounge.