Julie Lea-Krewe of Nyx Captain’s Mardi Gras Blog Series “Captain 2 Captain” Blog 3–Druids Interview

 

 

Join me as I sit down with my friend and Consultant for the Mystic Krewe of Druids, to learn a little more about them.

 

Mystic Krewe of Druids riders

 

 

JL:  I know the Ancient Druids has been parading since 1998. How did it all begin?

CMKD: Well that is a very interesting story. Myself and one other guy had thrown around the idea of Starting a parade. Conversation went from one idea to another and then went away. Then….myself and a few members of another Club that I belong to went to a Mardi Gras dance together with our wives (It was a Club in Chalmette that is no longer around) and we won a couple bottles
of Tequila and one thing led to another and Druids was Reborn.

There’s more to the tequila story, but, I’d get in a bunch of trouble if I explained the whole story so I’ll leave it alone.

So then myself and the original guy that had discussed the idea went to the City Council and we received a permit. And now it’s October and we have six members.

 

JL: Has Druids always paraded on the Wednesday night before Mardi Gras?

CMKD:  Druids originally paraded as a marching group from around 1915-1921 and then paraded behind Rex from 1922-1935. So we took 65 years off and started parading on a Tuesday night until Hurricane Katrina. We were then asked by the City to move from Tuesday to Wednesday.

JL: There is such a mystique and secrecy about the Krewe. Even the King who is referred to as the Arch Druid is never revealed. Why has the organization decided to remain so anonymous?

CMKD:  We just thought it would bring some fun back to Mardi Gras. Remember there were not that many parades on week nights. There were no Muses or Chaos when we started and Pegasus had moved to the weekend so Tuesday was open. And as far as the Archdruid. We know who the Archdruid is so that’s all that matters. Besides Mardi Gras has always been about secrecy and masking and every Club doesn’t want 3,000 members.

JL:   I also have learned that unlike most Krewes, Druids does not conform with tradition as far as staging a ball, nor naming a court, or a Queen. What is the reasoning for not participating in that type of pageantry?

CMKD:  Most of the guys are involved in other Clubs so we thought just having a parade would be best.
How do you know we don’t have a Queen ?

JL:  The parade is always very controversial. The themes and float titles really push the envelope with poking fun at public figures, being politically incorrect, and taking puns at other Krewes etc. I know this first hand! LOL. What is the premise behind taking the parade to the extremes?

 

Mystic Krewe of Druids sign takes a jab at female krewes in its 2015 parade.

 

CMKD:  That’s not us. You must be talking about someone else.

JL:  Do you think that the parade is misunderstood by some folks in the community?

CMKD: Yes. Absolutely!!

JL:   Now I have to talk about the Druids/Nyx relationship. We have enjoyed some good Mardi Gras fun through the years. I have to take you back to Wednesday, February 15, 2012, which was the night of our first parade. I will never forget we were in the staging area where Druids members were walking to their floats raising their beers and cheering us on in the pouring rain. It really meant something for us to share your parade night and to be wished well for our first ride. And then……..…I heard about the last float in Druids that night. I was crushed! LOL! Then I realized this was going to be a lot of fun and “Welcome to New Orleans Mardi Gras.” It was a real baptism for Nyx. Tell me about the sign on the last float that night.

CMKD: First we warned you that it rains two out of every three years, but, that is perfect Druids weather.

I believe our theme was Druids Circus ? Can’t remember title of last float. I have selective memory.

 

Sign on Druids last float in its 2012 parade.

 

Like they say…if you can’t make fun of your friends….

Druids float in its 2016 parade.

I do remember a few of your riders seemed upset, but, I think they now know it’s all done in jest.

I’m not sure if the media has figured that out yet which is really funny.

 

 

 

 

JL:   I’m glad that we enjoy a friendly relationship with the two Krewes. Don’t think that we aren’t ready for you year after year because we are!

From the Druids walkers in front of our parade that you left behind a few years, to float signs and different titles, we are always have a come back for you guys to keep Druids on its toes. Other than poking fun at each other, how has having Nyx ride behind Druids enhanced your parade?

Nyx jabs Druids in front of its 2014 parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nyx’s “Don’t be Cruel” float dressed like a Druid rider in its 2015 parade.
Nyx puts “Druids” riders who were left behind in front of their 2016 parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CMKD:  The good part is we now have people on the streets. The bad part is we now have to buy throws.

Not a lot of throws. Nyx throws enough for the both of us.
The 2019 parade should be a lot of fun.

I think we are ready for ya’ll.

 

 

“The Ancient Druids will parade on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 at 6:15pm on the traditional Uptown parade route…………..as a great opening act for the Mystic Krewe of Nyx who parades right behind them at 6:45pm. Don’t miss this spectacle of Mardi Gras mudslinging at its finest!”

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Finding My Mardi Gras Niche with the Krewe of Nyx

 

Written by Megan Boyle

 

Growing up outside of Chicago, the idea of Mardi Gras was something I never really thought about. After all, February in Chicago is WAY too flipping cold for parades! A classmate in elementary school once visited New Orleans during the season and brought back some beads. New Orleans was a far-off city “way down yonder” that I did not think I would ever visit, much less live in.

 

Long story short, my father was ultimately transferred to Mobile when I was in high school, I went to college there and made friends who were from the New Orleans area, I moved here in 2003 to be closer to them and for more opportunities, I met my husband within a few months, and 15 years later the rest is history and I have adopted New Orleans as a second hometown.

 

I’ll admit that, as my now-husband was a Mardi Gras fanatic and went to every single Metairie parade plus Endymion, I got burned out pretty quickly. Especially after a few cold, wet parades. Why should I stand out on a curb in all kinds of weather to catch cheap plastic junk that I did not need? Why should I deal with traffic jams due to closures of major streets? Why should I eat cold fried chicken that had been sitting out since 7:00 a.m.? Not my gig. Mardi Gras was a perfect day off to take care of chores around the house without the boyfriend getting in the way.

 

Fast forward to about three years ago. I went to watch the Nyx parade for the first time, mostly because my boss’ wife was riding. It was pink. It was glitzy. It was full-on girl power. I loved it. I couldn’t have more respect for how, within just a few years, the all-female krewe became the largest in the world. I started thinking about riding to see what it was like, and when an acquaintance who rides in Nyx shared on Facebook that the waiting list was open, I put my name in. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. And eventually shrugged the whole thing off.

 

It had started out as a typical Monday when I was checking my e-mail and saw a message from “Nyx Captain” with the subject line, “Congratulations! You have been invited to join the Mystic Krewe of Nyx!” My husband was floored when he received my text message reading, “HOLY SHIT I FINALLY GOT INVITED TO JOIN NYX OMG!!!” As much as I HAD shrugged it off, from the moment I got that e-mail my heart was set on it! We went out to dinner to celebrate, I filled out my paperwork and dropped it right in the mail with a check for my deposit, and I made my first Nyx purse after acquiring supplies at three separate stores. I stalked my e-mail even in the middle of the night until I received the confirmation that my application had been processed and I had the credentials to log into the “Members Only” section of the web site, and I was excited to see there were already several events on the calendar.

 

So now here this Chicago/New Orleans girl is, with a large box containing at least a dozen purses ready to be decorated, a black ball gown (found on clearance at Dillard’s among the leftover prom dresses on a shopping expedition with my grandmother), manpower ready to load my throws onto my float, and headed to Houston this weekend to meet the Captain and many other Nyx members. Super psyched, of course!

 

As much as Mardi Gras may never have been in my heart and soul like it is for people born and raised here who enjoyed it as children, and I could even have done without it for a long time, I think I may have finally come to love it. At least, now that I seem to have found my niche among my 3,000-plus sisters. Whose stories are each as unique as my own. Hail Nyx!

 

Megan Boyle is a first-year member of the Krewe of Nyx.

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Julie Lea- Krewe of Nyx Captain’s Mardi Gras Blog Series “Captain 2 Captain” Blog 2

Join me as I sit down with my friend and fellow Captain, “The Masked Captain” of the Knights of Sparta, to learn a little more about them.

 

  

 

JL:   In researching the Knights of Sparta, I learned the organization was formed in 1951 and first paraded in 1981. After 30 years of presenting elaborate bal masques and tableaus, why the move into parading as well?

MCKS: That move was made the our previous Captain and the Officers at that time. The possibility of parading was afforded us by Mr. Bernard I. (Irv) Zoller, who was the Captain of MECCA. He offered to incorporate what was then the Krewe of Sparta into his parade on the first Saturday of the parading season. After one very successful year of parading as MECCA / Sparta, Irv decided to step back into the Captain Emeritus position and offer the parade permit to Sparta. That is when we became The Knights of Sparta, and have paraded under that name since.

JL:   Parading in New Orleans has so many traditions and one of them is the use of Flambeaux’s. which Sparta still uses in its parade. Why have yall decided to continue with this tradition?

MCKS:  We were able to acquire a number of “original kerosene flambeaux” many years ago. We feel that having flambeaux in our parade links us with the parades of yesteryear, and gives the crowds that attend our parade a taste of the processions of the 1800s. We are, of course, not the only parade that still uses the old kerosene flambeaux. However, three are very few, and upholding many of the old traditions of Carnival is important to our members.

JL:   How long have you been the Captain of the Knights of Sparta?

MCKS:  This will be my fifteenth year as Captain.  I am only third Captain in the 67 year history of Sparta, and I am very humble and proud to serve in that capacity.

JL:   In your own words, can you explain the role of the Krewe Captain, and tell us some of your duties.

MCKS:  I expect that the role of Captain varies from krewe to krewe. However, in Sparta the Captain acts as the CEO and Chairman of the Board. The Officers each have their responsibilities and/or events to chair. However, the Captain oversees all the activities of the organization and has control of all artistic aspects of the Bal Masque and Parade.

I write and produce the Bal Masque, select the yearly themes, control the design of the costumes and floats, and chair several events. I must add that the Officers take a very active rule in all of activities and work hand-in-hand with me on all aspects of our organization. It is, truly, a “team effort”.

JL:   I have had the honor of attending many of your beautiful bal masques and parades. Something very unique about the Knights of Sparta I find very interesting, and others may not be aware of is, the Junior Captain. Can you share with me his relation to you and what roll he plays in the organization?

MCKS:  The position of “The Captain’s Shadow” was developed for Sparta by the previous Captain. His grandson served as The Captain’s Shadow for a number of years. My grandson, who is now 22 years old, began as The Captain’s Shadow, but was re-titled The Junior Captain when we grew taller than me. Incidentally, I took a good bit of friendly ribbing from some of the other Captains as my Grandson grew and eventually outgrew me.

The idea of a Captain’s Shadow or Junior Captain is to link the generations of Carnival and show that it is a tradition that is passed down from father to son………and from grandfather to grandson. Thus, Carnival survives and thrives through the years.

I now have a two year old Grandson, who I hope will eventually become The Captain’s Shadow.

JL:   How many officers help you run the krewe?

MCKS:  At present, we have 10 Officers. Each Officers has specific duties and/or events or committees to chair. Of course, the Officers’ Ladies are also very involved in our success each year.

JL:  Another thing I think is so much fun about you is that you assist other krewes during the season with narration of their balls and tableaus. How did that begin and how many balls do you assist with per year?

MCKS:  I was fortunate enough to have a background in theater while growing up in Ohio, and have never been shy about being in front of a crowd or behind a mic. I was also very honored to learn about Carnival from some of the great masters such as Irv Zoller, Irma Strode, Karl Smith, Norris and Jimmy Fitzmorris, and others. They taught me about bal masque and parade structure, narrating, and the history of Carnival.

Over the years I guess it has just snowballed into being involved with a number of krewes. Through those years, I have written and narrated coronations, bal masques, and parades for over 20 krewes. I presently am involved (in one way or another) with 14 organizations.

JL:   I know the Knights of Sparta believe firmly in the traditions of Mardi Gras. Which traditions are some of your favorites?

MCKS:  The traditional Old-style tableau bal masque is very important to Sparta and to me. We are one of the very few krewe that still stage a traditional tableau ball, and feature actors, dancers, singers, costumed Court, and a intricately scripted tableau.

Masking for the parade is certainly also high on the list for Sparta. We require all of our members to keep their masks in place for the entire ride.

I also love the fact the our parade features aspects of Carnival’s past, like traditional flambeaux and a mule-drawn King’s float.

We also almost exclusively use marching bands in our parade, like the parades of old.

JL:   What would you say is your greatest Mardi Gras memory in your time as Captain?

MCKS:  I would have to say that my ride the first year that I was Captain was my most significant memory. I was elected Captain in March of 2005, and was preparing for my first year as the leader of Sparta when Katrina hit. It was a real fight to just get our parade on the street for 2006, with displaced members, depleted city resources and manpower, etc. However, we were able to parade, and the people of the city were overwhelming with their outpouring of gratitude and love for us and for the continuation of the Carnival tradition. Sitting astride my horse and leading the parade as Carnival proved to the world that New Orleans was not going to give up after disaster was a wonderful feeling.

 

The Knights of Sparta will parade on Saturday, February 23, 2019.  Membership is currently open. Please visit //www.knightsofsparta.com for more information.

 

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A new Mardi Gras Season Begins for the Krewe of Nyx

Written by:  Alison Frazier

The 2019 season for the Mystic Krewe of Nyx has begun and our Summer Social Meet and Greet is  next weekend. The event is one of my favorites. Not only is it a wonderful time to meet new members and reconnect with current ones, it’s a festival of sisterhood. Nyx Sisters come together to share a night of dancing, food, and libations. The positive energy in the room is always palpable and off the charts.

 

  

Being a born and raised New Orleanian, Mardi Gras is in my blood. I began marching in parades at the age of twelve and continued until I graduated from high school. I would look at those riding on the floats and wonder what it was like up there. When my children graduated from high school, I looked for a carnival krewe to ride in. I wanted a krewe that rode at night and because I wanted to be a part of a sisterhood, it had to be an all-female krewe.

When I researched the Krewe of Nyx and found that their mission was ” to unite women of diverse backgrounds for fun, friendship, and the merriment of the Mardi Gras season,” I knew that I had found my krewe.

The Mystic Krewe of Nyx is more than just a carnival krewe and a sisterhood, it’s leading the way in terms of diversity and inclusivity with a significant number of women of all races and backgrounds riding.  Since becoming a member, I have many friends from all walks of life that I am proud to call my sisters.

 

This season is sure to be a great one and I can’t wait to attend krewe events. The many functions for Nyx Sisters and their families to gather and celebrate our 8th year as a Mardi Gras krewe will definitely create memories that will last a lifetime.

The Mystic Krewe of Nyx motto is,  “Friends come and go, but a sister is forever.”

I like that motto.

I love this krewe.

Hail Nyx!

 

Alison Frazier is a five year member of the Krewe of Nyx.  She is also a Float Lieutenant.  You can read more about Allison from her blog, //www.bayoucreole.wordpress.com.

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Krewe of Nyx Purses tracked on the Nyx Purse Tracker Facebook Page

 

Written by Del Hamilton:

In the Spring of 2012 I made a life changing decision when I decided to join the Mystic Krewe of Nyx.  I really wanted to be a part of a women’s krewe and had watched the very first Nyx parade roll in 2012 in the pouring rain.  As my first months passed I attended any event that I could to meet people.  The Krewe’s signature throw was a decorated purse and I was very intimidated by the thought of having to do these.  I attended my first purse decorating party in October with absolutely no clue of what I was getting involved in.  The thought of glittering a purse frightened me but I knew I needed to do it.  During that party, as the group chatted away, the idea of having a way to track where our purses went was born.  I walked away from that event with my very first decorated purse and went home.  It was after that event that I sat down one day and created on Facebook a new page called the Nyx Purse Tracker.

 

It began small and the first year only had a couple hundred followers.  The idea was that riders could add a card, label, or tag that asked the recipient to take a photo of themselves with their catch and post it to the Purse Tracker page so that we could see where and to who our creations went to.  I remember getting up the morning after the 2013 parade and taking a look at it.  Posts were going up.  That year we only had a relatively small handful of posts.  About 50 people posted their photos on the page.

The next year I decided to start posting teaser photos of purses prior to the parade.  This was a fun way to feature some of our creations and get interest from the public to attend the parade. That year I did a purse countdown to the parade and posted a new photo each day for the 50 days prior to the parade.  I have always been very stringent on my self-imposed rules on posting photos.  Photos had to be unique to the page and not have been posted previously.  So if a rider posted a photo to the page themselves I would not repost that as a feature photo.  I was careful to seek permission from the creator to post their photos.  Some riders gave me carte blanche permission to use any photo they had.  I love those riders!  It makes the job so much easier.  Gathering photos for a countdown is the hardest part.  As the 2014 parade approached I was getting messages from all over asking “How can I catch a purse?”  So I started telling people to make signs.  It was a thrill that year to see Purse Tracker signs on the parade route.

 

 

That year we had about 150 people post photos.  The excitement was also building with the riders who search Nyx Purse Tracker trying to catch a post of one of their creations.  The whole idea is completely voluntary on both ends so there is no requirement to put a card on a purse and of course there is no way to ensure that even if there is a card on your purse that the recipient will post a photo.  But after that 2nd year the site was off and running.  It was growing practically by the minute.  Interaction between riders and followers grew as more and more teaser photos were posted.   By 2015 the followers had grown to almost 2000 and instead of a 50 day countdown I did a 100 day countdown.  I learned along the way that posts that I made at 6 am had more impact than one posted later in the day.  Based on that information I began scheduling posts to hit early in the morning to have the most reach possible.   I have connected with people from all over the world through Nyx Purse Tracker and photos have been posted from many different countries.  We even had one recipient take her purse along with her on her travels.  We never knew where the traveling purse was going next and it was fun to find out when she posted a photo.

  

I also met a number of people through Nyx Purse Tracker.  Two really stand out for me.  One was a lady that reached out asking how could she catch a purse.  I of course told her to make a sign.  We conversed back and forth a bit on what that sign should say.  I finally told her to put “Jackie From Maryland” on the sign so I would know who she was.  As we rolled down Napoleon there she was with her sign exclaiming who she was and I managed to throw her the bag I had prepared for her.  After the parade she posted her picture and we continued to converse and became friends on Facebook.

The 2nd person that stands out that connected with me is a lady who posted a photo.  As we rolled down Magazine Street a man came up to me begging for a purse for his wife.  You KNOW that story.  I laughed and said “You really have a wife?  Where is your wife?”  He pointed back to a lady in the crowd who was waving away.  I gave him that purse!  Later Pamela posted a photo and we also connected and became friends.  I had never met them in person.  One lived in Maryland and one in Michigan.

 

 

This past year both of those ladies rode a couple spots away from me in their first Nyx parade as my Nyx sisters.  So the bottom line is that Purse Tracker now has over 5700 followers and is growing every day. It has become a place for people to connect all over the love of Nyx and catching purses.  It has even helped get a rider’s actual personal purse that she accidentally threw off the float back to her when the person who caught it posted asking for help in returning it.

 

This past year we had hundreds of photos posted from all over the world.  Seeing a creation you made in the hands of its new owner and loved as much as we loved them provides a feeling like no other.  We would love to have thousands of photos posted next year. Please follow along on our purse journey by liking our page. //www.facebook.com/NyxPurseTracker/

 

Del Hamilton is a seven year member of the Krewe of Nyx.  She is also a Float Lieutenant and assists the krewe with its preservation of archives.  Additionally, she is a connoisseur of purse decorating!  Watch her making some beautiful Nyx purses for the 2018 parade .

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New Orleans Mardi Gras – The Festival with indescribable feelings.

 

The feeling of attending Mardi Gras is incomparable with any feeling, but being at the forefront of the parade is a feeling indescribable.

Mardi Gras  is a must in New Orleans. It is one of the celebrations of the year with exciting sights and sounds and floats. You will never know the worth of the season until you attend one. It is not enough for you to attend, you must plan it carefully to relinquish every moment.

Yes, millions all over the world love the Mardi Gras. People plan their trips just to get a feel of the Mardi Gras celebration. As exciting as this sounds, nothing can be compared when you are part of the parade team. To be part of the parade, you must be join a krewe.

The Mardi Gras season is the season where every kind of dressing is simply imaginable. It is an event-loaded period with contests for the best costumes with the crowd watching with much as much fun and enthusiasm as the parades themselves.

You cannot talk about the Mardi Gras without making mention of beads, stuffed animals, cups, and doubloons. You will hear the crowd cheering, “Throw me something, Mister!” at the riders of the floats. Get ready with your cloth bag or sturdy plastic to get a hold of all treasures thrown at you. You must be ready for the fun because some people due to over-excitement may grab the beads you have collected. The fun never ends until midnight on Mardi Gras night.

 

Each year the Mystic Krewe of Nyx parades on the Wednesday night before Mardi Gras.  If you have the chance to see it, you won’t be disappointed.  Just yell for the ladies “Throw me something Sister!” to catch some of the fun swag and useful throws that Nyx is known for.

We hope to see you all on the Avenue!

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How a purse became a Mardi Gras float!

How does a fabulous purse become a beautiful float in Mardi Gras, New Orleans’ greatest free show on earth?

Learn how an idea comes full circle to reality.  The end result is pretty amazing!  We love what you did sisters!  This amazing float is the only “purse of its kind.”  We love that  Nyx created an original.  Its quite a sight to see to a giant purse rolling down the streets during carnival.

Read the story, from concept to reality of how the biggest Mardi Gras Parading Krewe in history made their Purse Float come to life.

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