Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday in French, dates back thousands of years. The annual tradition is a larger-than-life celebration in New Orleans and we take it very seriously. From Endymion to Zulu, locals and tourists from near and far come out in numbers and show out for beads, doubloons, and other famous catches.
Each Mardi Gras Krewe has a unique history and theme. Some have been around for over five decades, while others have been in existence for just a few years. Most Krewes aren’t just about the beads, the booze, and the revelry; Some Krewes and super Krewes give back to the community through various charitable efforts.
Our guest writer, Terrance Porter, compiled a list of 12 of the biggest and most interesting Mardi Gras Krewes, along with a few fun facts and their 2022 parade schedule (each Krewe is linked to its parade route).
Friday, Feb. 18
1. Krewe of Cleopatra – 6 p.m.
The 1500 women of the Krewe of Cleopatra will be playing “Cleopatra’s Greatest Hits” with this year’s theme. Floats will be dedicated to Jennifer Lopez, The Supremes, and the newly freed from conservatorship, Louisiana native, Britney Spears. Replicating the grace of Queen Cleopatra, for over 40 years, the krewe has been benevolent in the community. In the past, their charitable efforts include an annual Christmas toy drive and dress drive for a local high school’s upcoming prom. On what would’ve been the night before their 49th ride in 2021, the Cleopatra Krewe donated nearly 100 king cakes to the Second Harvest Food Bank. Following the parade’s run down Napoleon Ave. and Prytania St. through Tchoupitoulas St. and Poydras St. will be the Cleo Jubilee. Hail Cleo!
Sunday, Feb. 20
2. Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale – 11 a.m.
Feb 20th will be “Ladies First” as the first krewe founded by Black women pay tribute to the women that live at the top of Billboard charts with their #1 hits. Cherchez La Femme, the 40-member dance troupe of the krewe, will be sure to put on worthwhile performances representing the divas of the charts from Napoleon Ave. to Poydras Street. The signature throw is a ladies’ designer compact. President & Parade Captain: Dr. Takeisha Davis, MD. Queen: Denean Trigs-Keys.
Thursday, Feb. 24
3. Krewe of Muses – 6:45 p.m.
“Muses Hersday” will see the 1118 female members of the 22-year-old krewe tossing their highly sought-after high-heels throws from Napoleon Ave. to St. Joseph Street. This year, their cups will bear the design of Taylor Morris, the 2019 InspireNOLA graduate who was the winner of the Muses’ annual student Mardi Gras Cup Art Contest.
Saturday, Feb. 26
4. Krewe of NOMTOC – 10:45 a.m.
‘New Orleans Most Talked Of Club’ is an all-Black krewe of 625 members located on the West Bank and they have the “Passport To Happiness” with their 2022 theme. The journey begins at the intersection of Holiday Dr. and Wall Blvd., before reaching the final destination at General Meyer Ave. and Shirley Drive. Be on the lookout for the Jug Man dolls from their 625 male and female riders atop 26 floats.
Saturday, Feb. 26
5. Krewe of Iris – 11 a.m.
“Iris is on a Roll” this year. The oldest, largest women krewe is back to proceed through Uptown, Napoleon, and Carondelet Streets to Tchoupitoulas and Poydras Streets. Established in 1917, but began parading in 1959, the super krewe with a current membership of 3448 members will be throwing their custom sunglasses from 35 floats.
6. Krewe of Endymion – 4:15 p.m.
With 3200 riders, you would think a motto like “Throw ‘til it Hurts” would be extreme for the 55-year-old krewe, but Carnival season couldn’t be celebrated without excess. The parade starts at the intersection of City Park Ave. and Orleans Ave. Endymion will also have Samedi Gras, a block party before the parade and the Endymion Extravaganza post parade, featuring Diana Ross and Maroon 5 in the Superdome. Grand Marshall: Raymond Arroyo.
Sunday, Feb. 27:
7. Krewe of Thoth – noon
1900 Thoth members will be showing their appreciation with their theme: “A Gift for You.” The “Thoth Sock” will be the signature throw. Their original parade route was created for those in hospitals capable of viewing, but unable to attend. The route from Prytania St. and Napoleon Ave. to Tchoupitoulas St. and Poydras St. is able to be in front of the Children’s Hospital and several extended healthcare facilities. Grand Marshall: Richard “Piano” Scott.
8. Bacchus – 5:15 p.m.
Nearly two weeks removed from V-Day and the Krewe of Bacchus will still be showing love with their theme: “From The Heart.” 1600 male riders atop 32 super floats will be sharing signature throws that will include: toothbrushes, bandages, silicone pint glasses, selfie lights, and light-up shoelaces. For those unable to attend in person at Napoleon Ave. and Prytania St. for the parade or the after-party at the Convention Center immediately following, virtual throws will include a foldable wagon or chair through the “Throw Me Something Bacchus” app. Bacchus LIII: Josh Duhamel
Monday, Feb. 28
9. Krewe of Orpheus – 6 p.m.
Rolling on Lundi Gras is the super krewe, Orpheus. Consisting of 1500 members on 38 floats, including the 139-foot Orpheus Leviathan Float, the almost 30-year-old krewe will be traveling down St Charles Ave., throwing their signature throws: Orpheus medallion beads, stuffed dragons, and custom doubloons. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is where the floats make their final destination for a black-tie party that will go all night till 3 a.m.
Tuesday, March 1: Mardi Gras Day
10. Krewe of Zulu – 8 a.m.
Fat Tuesday begins with the oldest Black krewe and their theme, “Zulu Salutes Divas and Legends,” at S. Claiborne and Jackson Ave. before concluding at Broad Street. The Zulu Krewe is known for satirizing Blackface paint and hand-decorated coconut throws. On Feb 28th, The Zulu Krewe will also be hosting their 28th annual Lundi Gras Festival, “the greatest free show on Earth,” at Woldenberg Park. There will be food and music all day, including performances by Young Pin Stripe Brass Band, Teresa B & N Style, Brass-A-Holics, and plenty more local artists. King: Rudolph Davis Queen: TBA
11. Krewe of Rex – 10 a.m.
The oldest Mardi Gras parade will be rolling for the 140th time—beginning at the intersection of Napoleon Ave. and Carondelet St., later ending at South Peters Street. 2022’s theme will be “School of Design Sesquicentennial.” The King of Carnival for the last 150 years will be continuing the tradition of being conducted in the daytime and never revealing the identity of King Rex until Lundi Gras. Accompanying the royal court are the best high school, college, and military marching bands locally and nationally. Signature throws will be float-specific beads, classic glass beads, and gold Rex doubloons.
12. Krewe of Elks Orleans – 10:30 a.m.
The oldest, largest truck float krewe will be Uptown, starting at the intersection of Napoleon Ave. and S Claiborne Ave., and ending at Elk Place and Tulane Avenue. 4500 male and female riders will be on the back of over 100 pick-ups.
Check to the full 2022 Mardi Gras Parade Schedule!
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