Arthur Hardy: What you can expect from Endymion, NOMTOC, Iris, Tucks, Isis on Saturday in New Orleans _lowres

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- The Krewe of Endymion rolls through Mid-City in New Orleans, La. Saturday, March 1, 2014 with it's 34 floats reflecting its theme "An Evening At The Opera". Ryan Schwankhart was the King and Alexandra Kern was the Queen. Carrie Underwood rode as the parade's grand marshal along with actor Norman Reedus of the television series The Walking Dead and Ian Somerhalder of Vampire Diaries.

For several years now, crowds this weekend have become larger than on Mardi Gras day itself.

The Saturday before Fat Tuesday features five parades starting in the morning, when NOMTOC rolls out its 45th annual Carnival parade.

NOMTOC stands for New Orleans’ Most Talked Of Club. This predominantly African-American krewe presents a 21-float parade titled “A Tribute to Algiers: Places Remembered,” with former WDSU-TV anchorman Norman Robinson riding as grand marshal. The 435 members will toss new, lighted Jug crest doubloon beads. Look also for the new Jugman-themed float.

Carnival’s oldest female krewe, Iris, parades Uptown with 36 floats and an all-time-high membership of 1,310. The theme is “Iris Loves to Party.” The parade features 31 bands and Chris Owens as guest grand marshal. The club has gotten spunkier under the leadership of a new, young captain. The traditional screen masks have been replaced by new streamlined ones. Throws include plush king cake baby dolls and doubloons in nine colors.

“Tucks Saves the Day” is the satirical theme of the 47th annual parade of this 1,200-member club of men and women who are known for their irreverence. Signature floats include the Funky Tucks, Friar Tuck, Naughtyham and Giant Royal Throne. The Tucks parade features nearly 125 units, including 34 super-sized floats. Tucks throws a wide assortment of signature items, including mini-parachutes and logo toilet paper. New this year are the 10,000 toilet brushes krewe members will throw; they are decorated by the Magnolia School, whose special adults will ride on their own float.

How a small neighborhood parade morphed into Carnival’s largest krewe is a fabulous story, but all that matters to the public is that Endymion delivers an unforgettable procession every year. And the celebration begins hours before the parade, with the Samedi Gras Festival on Orleans Avenue at noon.

“Fantastic Voyages” is the theme of the 49th annual parade of this super-super-krewe of 3,000 men that features the spectacular nine-section Pontchartrain Beach float and the new E-TV float, which features video screens that will project images of the crowd watching the float. Some 30 college and high school bands will perform.

The men will be throwing lighted, themed, heart-shaped medallions in honor of Valentine’s Day. Also expect doubloons in four colors and a wide array of lighted merchandise. Guest Grand Marshal Luke Bryan will ride and will entertain 20,000 guests at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the post-parade Endymion Extravaganza.

Led by their new captain, the 200 female members of the Krewe of Isis will present a colorful 18-float parade with the theme “Music of the Night.” Float titles represent such subjects as “Rigoletto,” “The Magic Flute” and “Pirates of Penzance.” Leading the parade for the 43rd time is the Ponchatoula High School band. This year’s most popular throw will be personalized flip-flops. The procession features more than 40 units, including a new title float upon which the officers ride. Marching bands will participate in the Rhythm on the Route band contest.