Rolling today: Zulu, Rex, truck parades

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Zach Brien, Uptown Messenger file photo

Booker T. Washington High School flag twirlers with the Zulu parade

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.

And before you go out, put on a costume. It could just be a mask, a silly hat, a cape, something sparkly, feathers, glitter. Mardi Gras is not just a spectator event. You’re part of it, too.

The weather promises to be pleasant — mostly sunny with a high near 65. Have a safe and happy Mardi Gras, y’all!

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Robert Morris, Uptown Messenger file photo

The Krewe of Zulu 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 enjoying themselves. 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 all-male krewe has about 1,400 riders on 44 floats.

Starts: 8 a.m.

Theme: “Zulu Salutes Divas and Legends”

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:
START: Jackson Ave. and S. Claiborne Ave.
Left on Jackson Ave.
Left on St. Charles Ave.
Proceed on St. Charles Ave. around Egalite 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.

 

Rex Organization

Robert Morris, Uptown Messenger file photo

The Rex “Mystic Memphi” float

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. That makes it the city’s the oldest parading Carnival organization — and it makes this year its 150th anniversary.  It will be Rex’s 140th parade.

Starts: 10 a.m.

Theme:”School of Design Sesquicentennial”

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: Napoleon Ave. and Carondelet St.
Proceed down Napoleon St.
Left on St. Charles Ave.
Proceed on St. Charles Ave. around Egalite Circle.
Proceed on St. Charles. Ave.
Right on Canal St.
Right on Tchoupitoulas St.
END: Tchoupitoulas St. and Poydras St

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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