When I was growing up in Metairie in the early 1960s, long before the word "superkrewe" entered anybody's lexicon, the Krewe of Helios' annual parade was a big deal. On the first Saturday afternoon of parade season, my family would head down Magnolia Drive to watch the women's krewe roll along Metairie Road.
That was then. Helios, which was invariably mispronounced "Helois," hasn't rolled for nearly 40 years. Like dozens of other krewes throughout the New Orleans area, it was a victim of declining membership and the rising cost of staging a parade.
This week's Vieux Orleans will look at the organizations that, like Helios, don't parade anymore. That list includes the Krewe of Arabi, which saluted Canada in 1980 for its diplomats' role in helping six U.S. diplomats flee Tehran, and the Krewe of Venus, the first all-female krewe, which first hit the streets in 1941. Venus paraded until 1992 but dropped out of the 1993 lineup, blaming a drop in the number of women who wanted to ride.
Henry Trapani, Jefferson Parish's director of special events in 1999, gave a succinct reason for the disappearing krewes when he discussed the Krewe of Diana's exit after its 1999 parade: "There just wasn't enough money to put on a good show."
Money wasn't the only reason. After New Orleans' City Council passed a law in 1991 banning discrimination in krewe memberships, three old-line organizations - Comus, Proteus and Momus - dropped out of the 1992 lineup to protest the ordinance.
Comus and Momus haven't paraded since, but both continue to hold balls. Proteus returned to its traditional spot the night before Mardi Gras in 2000.
Do you have memories of krewes gone by? Share your memories of krewes that don't parade anymore in the comment stream below.
Even better, do you have pictures of these bygone Mardi Gras parades? If you have any vintage Mardi Gras photos or videos, we'd love to see them.
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