Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Krewe of Jupiter Mardi Gras Parade

My parents joined Krewe of Jupiter a few years ago with my aunt. A Mardi Gras Krewe is a social organization that revolves around the planning of a parade. Krewe of Jupiter puts on the first major parade in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, my hometown. They hold a series of parties, barbeques, and outreach programs over the course of the year in preparation for the culminating event of the parade. These Krewes in some cases have existed for decades and are responsible for strong community ties in all parts of Louisiana.

Each year, a royal court is chosen. A king and queen and royal family are chosen from members of the Krewe and reside over the parade. Usually the king and queen are local celebrities, prominent business people, or community figureheads and serve the purpose of drawing crowds to the parade. There is even a coronation ball with elaborate costumes and a lavish feast with lots of drinking and dancing. All of the events, of course, ultimately lead up to the final parade and a big party afterwards. I’m sure that you’ve gathered by now that folks in Louisiana love pageantry and any excuse to party.

Some say the parades are a throwback to the times when noblemen would throw trinkets at crowds in medieval times to win their affections. Today, plastic beads of various shapes and sizes are thrown along with stuffed animals, hats, and Frisbees, among others. Some Mardi Gras memorabilia is quite collectible, especially Czechoslovakian glass beads common in the fifties and sixties and doubloons stamped with krewe logos which are rare nowadays because they are expensive to produce.

This year’s parade was an event to be remembered, and I’m really glad I made the trip down from Boston to be with my family and friends on the big day. I brought my friends Melissa and Chris down from Boston and my mom arranged for them to be able to ride on the float so they could have the full experience as folks dropped out because of the weather.

Despite the cold and wet day, Mom, Aunt Donna, Melissa, and Chris reported that they had the time of their lives on the float. They got dressed up in sequined tunics and threw beads and trinkets to the crowds. They couldn’t stop talking about how much fun they had even though it was chilly and the crowd was a bit thin as a result.

My dad and I elected not to ride the float, although there were spots for us, instead having martinis in the hospitality suite at the hotel while the parade was getting started. We braced ourselves for the cold with a few libations and met the parade at the end of the route. Because the crowd was relatively light, we were actually identified by our friends and family on the float, and they threw us some really good beads.  Dad gave his to some of the smaller children to wide-eyed surprise and gratitude, but I wanted to keep mine not only to have a souvenir, but also to gift to friends back in Boston. It was fun to hear the high school marching bands go by, see the elaborate beaded and feathered costumes and headdresses of Jupiter’s royalty, and the brightly colored floats pass by. Parades in Louisiana are a real spectacle!

Mardi Gras is a huge deal every year in New Orleans, but Krewe of Jupiter puts on a pretty swell parade right in Baton Rouge. I have been to parades in New Orleans, but it was nice to avoid the aggressive and drunk crowd that frequents the parades in the Crescent City. The folks at the Hilton served us great food and desserts at the after party, and the band was very good. Combine that with a spirited group of revelers and you have a recipe for a good time to be had by all.

1 comment:

  1. parade pics found at www.dariadoyle.com under "online ordering" What a night!