Mardi Gras 2020 is Feb. 25, with two weeks of parades and parties leading up to the big day. This season opens in New Orleans with new regulations aimed at a safer and cleaner parade experience, some shuffling of big names in Carnival, and traffic rerouting around construction and the site of the Hard Rock Hotel collapse.
On Jan. 30, the City Council passed additions to the Mardi Gras ordinance, some of which merely codified into law recent practices, including limiting the number of marching groups in parades.
New restrictions call for the elimination of the plastic wrappers on throws that clog the city’s storm drains. Revelers will also not be allowed to park campers, storage pods or trucks with portable toilets within two blocks of parade routes, and the city now has the right to remove personal items left on public rights of way four hours before a parade starts.
There was great concern that proposed tariffs on throws from China would be imposed this year but they did not materialize.
WHO’S THE BIGGEST? Membership rosters in 2020 show Nyx with 3,476 women, Iris with 3,448 women, Endymion with 3,300 men, Thoth with 1,975 men and Tucks with 1,800 men and women.
KERN ON A ROLL: Kern Studios continues to make news, strengthening its position as the area’s premier player in the float-building industry. While it parted ways with Rex (Royal Artists now builds the parade) and no longer produces any parades on the west bank or in Jefferson, St. Tammany or St. Bernard parishes, it gained Iris with its 3,000-plus members and more than 30 floats.
Kern handled the new female Krewe of Nefertiti on Sunday, which brought a preseason parade to New Orleans East, where the last Mardi Gras parade rolled in 1992.
The Kern company has also renewed its relationship with the Krewe of Alla, where Blaine Kern got his start more than eight decades ago. Barry Kern orchestrated the parade’s move from Sunday afternoon to Friday night as the third parade in a triple-header evening. He also brokered an Alla partnership with the Legion of Mars, the 8-year-old philanthropic krewe that enjoys a deep military connection. Service members and first responders from throughout the country, police and fire departments, are invited to join the parade.
Another Kern project has Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews teaming up with the Krewe of Freret for a post-parade “Shorty Gras” party at Mardi Gras World. The parade will feature a giant animated figure of Andrews.
BIRTHDAY PARTIES: The NOMTOC parade turns 50 years old in 2020. Muses and Morpheus are now 20 years old. Celebrating their 125th anniversaries are the ball-only organizations of the Krewe of Nereus and the Original Illinois Club.
SUPERKREWE NEWS: Because of renovations to the Superdome, the Endymion Extravaganza moves to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for 2020 and likely next year also. This year’s all-star line up of entertainers includes Tim McGraw, Styx and Train.
Academy Award nominee Bryan Cranston will reign as monarch in the Krewe of Orpheus’ 2020 Lundi Gras parade.
Robin Thicke will reign as Bacchus LII, 32 years after his father Alan Thicke served as Bacchus XX in 1988.
KENNER, BRA! Hand-decorated throws continue to be popular, with the Krewe of Isis in Kenner tossing hand-adorned bras as part of their cancer awareness outreach.
TRAFFIC TIPS: Hopefully, parking near and access to the Convention Center will be easier for the krewes that hold functions there — Bacchus, Endymion, NOMTOC, Nyx, Orpheus and Zulu.
The collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel on Canal Street has the parades that pass in front of the location (Endymion and Zulu) altering their routes. The New Orleans Police Department also made late changes on the final legs of the Bacchus, Hermes and Orpheus parades.
METAIRIE: Last summer the 40-year-old Krewe of Caesar, Metairie’s biggest and arguably best parade, announced it would suspend operations for 2020. Centurions moves from the second Friday to Caesar’s spot on the first Saturday. And after 30 years in Metairie, the Krewe of Isis returns to its original home in Kenner where its first seven parades were staged.
Except on Fat Tuesday, all parades will employ the new route, which now starts on Bonnabel Boulevard and Feronia Street and ends at the Clearview Shopping Center, the new home of Family Gras.
After being dormant for five years, the Krewe of Atlas returns as part of a doubleheader with the Krewe of Kings on Sunday, Feb. 16.
The biggest story in Jefferson Parish is the new Magical Krewe of MadHatters, which shows great promise thanks to solid leadership, a big membership, celebrity riders and a very healthy budget.
Sponsored by Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, “Mardi Gras Moola” is a new throw to be available from all Metairie parades. These wooden doubloons may be exchanged for discounts at participating Jefferson Parish businesses. Find details at mardigrasmoola.com.
ST. TAMMANY PARISH: The Original Krewe of Orpheus in Mandeville decided to take a year off but promises to return in 2021.
Dionysus celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.
With nearly 800 co-ed members, the five-year-old Krewe of Poseidon in Slidell is now St. Tammany Parish’s biggest Carnival organization. The procession features more than 70 units, including 31 floats (seven tandems). Poseidon continues to draw top units, including the Human Jukebox from Southern University, the 610 Stompers, the Amelia Earhawts, the Muff-a-lottas and Disco Amigos.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy Carnival!