Feb 252020
 

The Southern University band performs with Zulu on St. Charles Avenue in 2019. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The key to a good Mardi Gras Day is getting up early. There is so much fun to be had — don’t miss  a minute.
The National Weather Service predicts areas of dense fog before 9 a.m. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 66. Winds will be calm. Sounds nice. Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club

The Zulu “Big Shot” rolls on St. Charles Avenue on Tuesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

One of the reasons the Zulu parade is so much fun to watch, even if you don’t catch a coconut, is that its riders are clearly having so much fun. Add in some of the city’s top bands and imaginative floats and Mardi Gras morning could not better than this. The Zulu king is chosen by a democratic vote of the krewe’s 1,500 members, as are the signature characters. The theme this year is “Zulu’s Book of Love.”

Watch for: Each of Zulu’s eight characters, including the Big Shot, Witch Doctor, Province Prince and Mr. Big Stuff, has its own float and its own throws.

Catch it if you can: The krewe hands out about 60,000 hand-decorated coconuts.

Route: The route is adjusted this year to avoid the Hard Rock Hotel area.
START: 8 a.m. Jackson Ave. and S. Claiborne Ave.
Left on Jackson Ave.
Left on St. Charles Ave.
Proceed on St. Charles Ave. around Lee Circle.
Left on Poydras St.
Right on Loyola Ave.
Proceed on Elk Pl.
Proceed on Basin St.
Proceed on Orleans Ave.
END: N. Broad St. and Orleans Ave.

The Zulu route (ready.nola.gov)

Rex Organization

The Krewe of Rex “Butterfly King” float rolls on St. Charles Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Rex helps define Carnival in New Orleans. Its king, Rex, is the king of Carnival. Its colors — purple, green and gold — are the colors of Carnival. And its parade is the crowning glory of Mardi Gras.

Officially the School of Design, Rex began parading in in 1872, as New Orleans was recovering from the Civil War, in part to entice tourists to visit the city (it worked). The krewe has held more parades than any other organization, so it knows what it’s doing. It looks into the future for 2020 with the theme “Omens and Auguries.”

Watch for: The Rex signature floats, built on old wooden wagons with wood-spoked wheels, provide some of the classic images of Carnival.

Catch it if you can: Some Rex riders have returned to throwing the classic glass beads.

Route:
START: 10 a.m. at Napoleon Ave. and S. Claiborne Ave.
Left on Napoleon Ave.
Left on St. Charles. Ave.
Proceed on St. Charles Ave. around Lee Circle
STOP for toast in front of Gallier Hall, 545 St. Charles Ave.
Right on Canal St.
END: Canal St. and Tchoupitoulas St.

The Rexroute (ready.nola.gov)

Krewe of Elks Orleans, Krewe of Crescent City

Crowds gather for the truck parades on Mardi Gras Day. (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

The Krewe of Elks Orleans follows Rex with individually designed truck floats carrying 4,600 riders. And the Krewe of Crescent City, the last parade of the season, follows Elks with 2,500 riders.

Each truck represents a different Carnival organization, often family or neighborhood groups, with its own title and theme. This tradition goes back to the 1930s as a way to give more people a chance to participate in a Mardi Gras parade (it worked).

Watch for: The krewes have competitions each year for the Best Float in the parade. Decide which float you would choose.

Catch it if you can: If you haven’t caught enough throws yet, now is your chance.

Route:
START: 10:30 a.m.  S. Claiborne and Napoleon avenues
Left on Napoleon Avenue
Left on St. Charles Avenue
Proceed on St. Charles Avenue around Lee Circle
Left on Poydras Street
END: Poydras & Loyola streets

The truck parade route (ready.nola.gov)

Safety, parking, transportation

As always, take care in large crowds and report suspicious activity to public safety officials. See additional information about Mardi Gras parades at ready.nola.gov/mardi-gras or text MARDIGRAS to 888777 for updates from the city of New Orleans.

Parking is restricted along parade routes two hours before and after parades to be sure parade elements and sanitation crews can access the street. Parking personnel will be monitoring for illegal parking. Call 504-658-8100 for parking enforcement. See additional Mardi Gras parking information.

Depending on the parade route, parking may be prohibited on either side of the following streets two hours before and after parades. Follow all posted signs.
• Tchoupitoulas from Jackson to Nashville
• Napoleon from Tchoupitoulas to South Claiborne
• St. Charles from Napoleon to Canal
• Tchoupitoulas from Poydras to Calliope

Before parades begin or when crowd size warrants, the New Orleans Police Department will close the route to vehicles. Plan ahead and avoid streets that intersect with parades. Additional intermittent closures will be necessary as parade elements travel across the city. Track the lead and tail of parades as they roll with the parade tracker at routewise.nola.gov.

All RTA service alerts, updates, and detours can also be accessed by downloading the RTA’s GoMobile app. To learn more, visit www.norta.com or call Ride Line at 504-248-3900.

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