Beset with financial problems and dwindling membership, the Original Krewe of Orpheus has not paraded in Mandeville for the past three Mardi Gras seasons. But the all-male Carnival organization is hoping to roll Feb. 5 now that it has the blessing of Mandeville's special events committee to do so.
The committee's approval last week of the krewe's parade permit application will be forwarded to the City Council for a vote in December. If the council votes in favor, the permit request will be sent to Mayor Donald Villere for his signature. Villere said he recently joined the organization and will sign off on the parade.
John Lawrence, a north shore attorney who took over as Orpheus captain in February, said the organization currently has 150 to 175 members. A city ordinance requires that Carnival organizations have at least 200 riders to parade. Lawrence said the krewe is still signing up members and he expects to have 200 riders and 13 floats on parade day.
"We're rolling," Lawrence said. "Everyone seems to be very excited that we're back."
The Original Krewe of Orpheus was formed in 1988 and had been one of the north shore's longest-running parades before it was halted after its 2012 procession. In its heyday, the organization featured 32 floats and more than 600 members. Then the recession hit, pinching many krewes in the New Orleans area. Many organizations downsized or folded.
Orpheus' departure left Mandeville with just one parade -- the all female Krewe of Eve -- for the past two Mardi Gras seasons. Eve plans to roll its 2016 parade on Jan. 29.
Lawrence said Orpheus will have a new vibe when it returns to the streets. And he said he hopes it might spur renewed interest in Carnival organizations throughout the area. "We have really come out of the ground with a grass-roots effort that has provided new riders, new float lieutenants and some momentum for the future," he said.
Villere said he hopes the City Council will go along with the krewe's parade permit request even if happens to come up short of the required 200 riders. "I don't see any reason to rain on their parade," Villere said. "We should give them the latitude to grow."
Mandeville's Original Krewe of Orpheus began parading several years before the more familiar New Orleans Krewe of Orpheus, thus the "original" reference in its name. The New Orleans version, co-founded by entertainer by Harry Connick Jr., parades Uptown on Lundi Gras.