What’s new for Mardi Gras 2015: Route changes, new krewes and more

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Lundi Gras 2015 parades, fests and fun for impatient Mardi Gras revelers.

The satirical and immensely popular Krewe du Vieux rolls down Royal Street at Elysian Fields Avenue on Feb. 15, 2014. The krewe will walk a different route in 2015. (Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune archive) (Michael DeMocker) The casual observer might think of Mardi Gras — despite its floating annual date — as a set thing so steeped in history and tradition that there’s not much difference in one Carnival from the other. French Quarter residents are fearful that Mardi Gras may be marred again by violence and they’ve posted signs on balconies, doors and in windows advising people to “walk in large groups.” At least eight out of the past 11 Carnival festivities have seen shootings take place at parade routes, in clubs or on Bourbon Street. Lundi Gras is your day if you want to attend a free riverfront festival, watch big parades, or see the mayor of New Orleans surrender the city to Rex while the Zulu king shares the podium. And this year is no different. (About those parades, there’s a guide for those and more.) Here’s a starting list of new things for this year’s Mardi Gras.

The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club hosts the free festivities with music on three stages, food, costumed Zulu characters, children’s activities, and a score of local food vendors. Recently I wrote: “The new route, which, like the old one, originates on Franklin Avenue in Faubourg Marigny, takes a fairly straightforward path as it heads through the Marigny and into the French Quarter (mostly along Decatur, Royal and North Peters streets before snaking its way around the CBD and landing at the Civic Theatre for the ball.” Katherine Sayre writes: “The neutral ground along Napoleon Avenue is undergoing massive construction to improve a drainage canal, part of a larger Southeast Louisiana Drainage program, a partnership of the two agencies.

Crowds from the Zulu event often wander over to nearby Spanish Plaza, 1 Poydras St., for the arrival of Rex — the first time that loyal subjects will get to see the 2015 King of Carnival in his raiment. Those who arrive early will find plenty of festive distractions at the annual “Lundi Gras on the Mississippi,” which features live music and food vendors in Spanish Plaza starting at 3 p.m. Featuring special lighting and add-ons such as reading lamps and mini bars, the chairs can speed along at about five miles per hour and are reportedly very easy to drive.

The route will take the krewe up to Frenchmen Street, where it will turn right on Dauphine Street and head all the way down to Poland Avenue and back toward the original starting point.” Doug MacCash writes: “The science fiction-oriented Carnival marching group called The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus has become a bona fide religion, co-founder Ryan Ballard said Wednesday (Oct. 8). As Ballard explains it, the conversion is the product of a practical joke blended with an appeal for tax-exempt status. ‘It kind of grew out of a natural evolution of the krewe,” he said. “We’ve had an inside joke that Chewbacchus is like a cult.'” Bob Warren writes: “For many folks, no Mardi Gras season can be called a success unless bags and bags of beads have to be toted up the attic stairs after the parades have all passed. But a labor dispute across the country could spell trouble for getting some of those beads into the hands of the people who toss them off the Carnival floats, a WWL news report says.” Judy Walker writes: “For starters, Haydel’s Bakery partnered with the ride-sharing service Uber to deliver cakes on Jan. 6. And Haydel’s has expanded its pop-up locations to three this year (3940 Veterans Blvd., Metairie; 2431 Metairie Road; 4001 Magazine St., New Orleans). You’ll probably have time for a drink or two before the parade’s 36 floats arrive in the CBD. (It rolls from Napoleon Ave. and Tchoupitoulas St. at 6 p.m.) Orpheus shares the night with the Proteus parade, which also follows the Uptown route, rolling at 5:15 p.m. from Magazine Street and Napoleon Ave.

The theme of the inaugural procession is ‘The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale Remembers Hollywood Horror Classics,’ according to krewe founder Gwendolyn Rainey. Paradegoers will see 14 floats depicting silver screen incarnations of werewolves, headless horsemen, brides of Dracula and witches, among other monsters and menaces.

Last year, a Fat Tuesday rainstorm challenged krewes to maintain a high standard or face fines, as WDSU television noted in wrapping up changes for the 2015 schedule. Part of the fun, after the last act on Sunday strums its last chord, has come to include turning one’s eyes from the musical stage to see a Carnival parade on Veterans Memorial Boulevard. On (Jan. 8), however, news that the Krewe of Atlas will not parade in the Feb. 8 slot this year shook up Family Gras organizers. ‘It’s very disappointing,’ said Violet Peters, president of the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organizes Family Gras festivities. ‘It’s really become an established event. …

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