With a relatively late Mardi Gras, krewe members and paradegoers are hoping for warm weather and sunny skies. The last three March 5 Fat Tuesdays recorded pleasant temperatures: 70 degrees in 1957, 76 in 1947 and 76 in 1935. The city is expecting a banner year with larger crowds than usual.

Merchants like a late Fat Tuesday because it provides more days to do business.


Lynes Sloss reigns as King of Carnival as Rex, the oldest parading Carnival krewe, rolls on St. Charles Avenue at Canal Street for its 137th year on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, to the theme, ‘L’Ancienne Nouvelle-Orleans.’ Sarah Jane Holbrook Freeman reigned as Queen of Carnival.

The elimination of the Canal Street loop and the new limitations on the number of units in each parade in 2018 are now permanent. And there will be a return of the “gutter buddies” that helped keep Carnival refuse from clogging the drainage system in 2018. The Lundi Gras festivities will return to Spanish Plaza after a one-year move caused by construction.

City officials have announced that unattended tarps, ladders and tents will be removed and destroyed.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell unveiled a new app that will enable parade viewers to track parades and also contact emergency services. Text MARDIGRAS to 888777 to stay posted on weather, traffic and safety information from the City of New Orleans.

Because of construction on Convention Center Boulevard, which is being transformed into a pedestrian mall, no parades will be able to stage or disband there this year. The half-dozen balls and post-parade parties usually held there will still go on, but attendees will have difficulty accessing the area.


The Pussyfooters march in the Krewe of Thoth parade on the Uptown route in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. 38 floats rolled in the Krewe of Thoth with the theme, "Thats the Way We Roll." Joe Lacefield reigned as King Thoth with Queen Thoth, Erin Foley Bowen.

This 2019 Carnival season’s top stories include the dominance of female clubs in the membership race, and the new attention focused on alternative parades by the large crowds that gather to enjoy them and by the media.

The popularity of signature throws continues, and there is a greater interest in doubloons, especially the new “cutout” versions. Krewes featuring them include Alla, Babylon, Bacchus, Carrollton, Choctaw, Druids, Excalibur, Iris, Joan of Arc, King Arthur, Morpheus, Nyx, Pontchartrain, Pygmalion and Thoth.

This year celebrity lineups include “Supernatural” actor Jensen Ackles, who will reign as Bacchus LI for its 2019 parade. Pontchartrain will feature Twisted Sister's Dee Snider. Endymion continues to be the earliest to announce their all-stars who ride in the parade and also entertain at the post-parade Extravaganza inside the Superdome: Lionel Richie, Flo Rida and Chicago are the main attractions.

New Orleans native Patricia Clarkson will serve as the Krewe of Muses Honorary Muse. Clarkson is the first honorary muse to be honored twice in the krewe's 19-year history — in 2012 and 2019.

The Krewe of Orpheus will be led by monarch Mario Lopez, host of "ExtraTV'' and the nationally syndicated radio show "On With Mario.'' Orpheus co-founder Harry Connick Jr. and country music star Trace Adkins will also ride. The hip-hop duo Ying Yang Twins will ride in Pygmalion. Amanda Shaw rides and performs in Thoth. The new Krewe of Kings presents Rocky Dopsie as its grand marshal. Krewe of Nyx features local TV icon Angela Hill as its grand marshal. This year’s Family Gras lineup includes John Oates, Michael McDonald and Brett Eldredge.

The alternative krewes of Chewbacchus and ‘tit Rex were surprised to learn in November that their parades would be moved closer to Christmas. Citing manpower shortage and increased crowds that these groups now draw, the NOPD felt the move necessary.

There are a few special anniversaries in 2019. Twelfth Night Revelers, which hosts only a ball, is turning 150. Okeanos is 70, Centurions is 40 and Caesar is 40. New leaders debut in 2019, as Zulu has a new president and the krewes of Chaos, Hermes, Perseus and Rex are led by new captains. The present Choctaw captain will retire after this year’s parade.

There is a friendly competition between the female krewes of Iris and Nyx as to which club will have the most riding members in 2019. Both clubs, along with the all-male Krewe of Endymion, will surpass the 3,000 mark. The Krewe of Iris will have a brand-new fleet of floats in 2019, provided by Blaine Kern Artists. The Cantrell Family had built every float used by the Krewe of Iris since 1974. Saturday, March 2, 2019, will be a landmark day for the Kern family with the parades of Iris, Tucks and Endymion all under the company’s direction. If all of the tandem units were separated, the total would be 210 floats!

Zulu scored big when it landed the LSU Marching Band for its 2019 parade.

After a seven-decade relationship with the Kern family, the Rex organization will be switching float builders and will employ Royal Artists for their 2020 parade.

The recent blackface controversy that has hit politicians in Virginia spotlighted Zulu's 100-plus year tradition of requiring all riders, black and while, to paint their faces. Zulu officials released a statement to make the distinction between the demeaning blackface used in minstrelsy and their practice that honors longstanding tradition.

After the death of founder and captain Irvy Cosse this year, Metairie lost the 38-year-old Corps de Napoleon but gains the new Krewe of Kings led by longtime float builder Mac Cantrell Jr., who was the founder and captain of the Krewe of Thor (1975-2013). The new group will parade on the first Sunday of the parade season during Family Gras.

A report in the press indicated that Jefferson Parish spent $1.6 million on parades. In recent years the quality and quantity of those parades has declined. In an effort to reinvigorate the celebration, major route changes are set as some parades will start at Bonnabel Boulevard and end at the Clearview Shopping Center where Family Gras has been restaged. Parades on the new route include Excalibur, Kings, Centurions, Athena and Pandora. Parades that chose to continue using the traditional route are Caesar, Isis, and the Fat Tuesday parade of Argus and the truck parades of Jefferson and Elks Jeffersonians. The parish also announced that special “donation trucks” will appear at the end of each procession. Paradegoers are invited to throw their beads into the empty truck. The beads will be sorted and recycled by the adult members of the Arc of Greater New Orleans, which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Several parades will feature satirical references to the NFL, and a few are throwing yellow flags to parade watchers, something the city wishes had been done in the Saints NFC playoff game.

The next time the big day falls on March 5 is in 2030.

Herb Roe doesn't just paint Mardi Gras scenes, he lives them