By the time the Mardi Gras dust settles and the beer goes flat on Ash Wednesday, some 100 parades of all shapes and sizes are scheduled to have rolled through New Orleans and surrounding areas as part of Carnival 2017. But what about those krewes of years gone by that only now parade in the memories of Mardi Gras nostalgists?
We took a dive into The Times-Picayune archives -- with an assist from Arthur Hardy's comprehensive book "Mardi Gras in New Orleans: An Illustrated History" -- to remember 30 local Carnival parades that ain't there no more. From Gladiators to Pandora to Venus, their names will be familiar to longtime New Orelanians, but now they are just Carnival memories.
Take a look at them in the included photo gallery and read about them each below. File it all under "If Ever I Cease to Ride."
Keep in mind: This list is by no means a comprehensive one; we've limited it mostly to parades that rolled for more than five years. But if there are krewes you'd like to see in any follow-up stories, let us know in the comments stream and we'll scour the files for photos.
For nearly 25 years, the St. Bernard Parish krewe paraded on the Friday before Fat Tuesday. But after declining membership saw it stage a parade with just 10 floats in 1992, leadership decided it was time to shut things down. "I could not put on a parade with 62 members," Amor captain Jan Loiacono of Kenner told The Times-Picayune at the time. "I need at least 50 more people. Last year we had 125. Each year it has been getting less and less."
Started in the in 1932, the Krewe of Arabi was one of the oldest parades in St. Bernard Parish when it last rolled in 1985, one of several St. Bernard krewes unable to weather tough economic times amid the region's oil bust - and one of three metro area parades to go belly-up in 1986. (The others: Selena and Vulcan.) "We'll try to reorganize next year," krewe Captain Joe Griffith told The Times-Picayune at the time, adding that it was doubtful. Arabi returned to parade in 2005, but it never returned from Hurricane Katrina.
Bards of Bohemia
The Bards only started parading in 1988, but their Mardi Gras history goes back to 1933 and their elaborate Carnival balls. The group's 2006 parade was cancelled at the last minute after "insurance issues" in the wake of 2005's Hurricane Katrina. It hasn't paraded since.
Mystic Krewe of Carnival
In 1991, the St. Bernard Parish krewe disbanded for good, leaving people in Da Parish without a Fat Tuesday parade for the first time since the 1950s. A tough local economy, flagging membership and infighting were blamed, said Emile Prattini Jr., whose father was the krewe's captain, in a 1991 interview.
Named after a St. Bernard neighborhood, the Krewe of Chalimar had a fairly short run, from 1976 to 1980. It was one of several St. Bernard krewes to fold in the 1980s, including the Krewe of Arabi.
Founded in 1856, the Mistick Krewe of Comus is recognized as the city's first modern Carnival krewe and for well more than a century staged an annual parade, which traditionally was the last to roll on Fat Tuesday. Then, in 1991, amid the city's forced integration of Carnival krewes, Comus decided to stop parading rather than revealing its traditionally secret membership, although it still holds its annual Mardi Gras ball.
Mystic Krewe of Cynthius
Cynthius' life span was a relatively short one, parading on the Saturday before Mardi Gras in Orleans Parish from 1947 to 1951. It was, however, notable for being the first krewe that float-builder Joe Barth Jr. worked on independently, according to a 1994 story in The Times-Picayune.
Daughters of Eve
The St. Bernard Parish parade rolled for the last time in 1979 after a short seven-year reign. Other krewes with short-lived runs in St. Bernard include the Krewe of Pan, Haderus, Oz and Sampson and Delilah.
One of Jefferson Parish's oldest all-female parading groups, it folded in 1999 after a 30-plus year run. The reason? It's a common one for ain't-there-no-more krewes: "There just wasn't enough money to put on a good show," parish special events director Henry Trapani said in a 1999 story in The Times-Picayune.
Mystic Krewe of Druids
The original Druids, part of a fraternal organization, rolled behind Rex on Fat Tuesday for 13 years starting in 1922, until the Great Depression prompted it to fold. It is not to be confused with the modern-day Krewe of Ancient Druids, which began riding in 1999 and continues today.
Before Hurricane Katrina and post-storm flooding devastated St. Bernard Parish in 2005, the Krewe of Gladiators was one of the parish's oldest parading organizations. But defections in early 2005 of a number of members to the newly formed Krewe of Nemesis, and then the storm, turned out to be too much of a one-two punch for it to endure. Gladiators found itself sitting out a couple of years before mounting another parade in 2008 but has yet to return for good.
From 1958 to 1977, the all-female krewe paraded through the streets of Metairie. The cause of its demise is, again, a familiar one: declining membership and the cost of putting on an annual parade.
A Gentilly tradition since 1969, the Krewe of Hercules stopped parading in 1991.
The St. Bernard Parish parade debuted in the 1970s, but became a victim of hard times in 1982. In 1983, it merged with the Krewe of Jupiter for a joint parade, then disbanded. (A separate Krewe of Jupiter and Juno paraded in Baton Rouge from 2004 to 2014.) A decade later, Juno returned to parade in 1994 and 1995 as the Krewe of the Goddess Juno but again was forced to disband.
"At one point, some thought there were too many Carnival krewes in (St. Bernard) Parish," read a 1991 story in The Times-Picayune. "When the economy took a plunge in the early 1980s, many St. Bernard krewes joined it." That included the Krewe of Jupiter, which started in 1969 and which merged with Juno for a year in 1983 before ceasing its regular roll.
You can't say Mecca didn't give it a good try. Started in 1968, it paraded for a decade in Orleans Parish. As times got tough in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it merged first with Hestia and then Sparta. By 1982, the handwriting was on the wall, as Mecca rolled for the last time.
After a 20-year run that started in 1986, the Metairie parade in 2005 became the first casualty of a Jefferson Parish ordinance designed to guarantee high-quality parades. Specifically, it couldn't provide the minimum number of marching bands, krewe floats and riders. "This is the first time the parish has ever taken the initiative to control the quality of its parades," then-Parish Special Events Coordinator Mike Yenni said. "Even though we're a suburb, we're based on what started in New Orleans and, before that, in Mobile. And that's the image Jefferson Parish should adhere to."
After 16 years rolling through New Orleans East, the male and female krewe decided in 1992 to call it quits. "It just got to be too much of a hassle," the krewe's captain told The Times-Picayune at the time. "I guess maybe you'd call it a burnout. ... We've always had a nice parade, and that's the way we want to end it." Although the krewe's disbanding coincided with a city ordinance requiring Carnival organizations to admit members without regard to race, religion or national origin, krewe officials said the issue didn't play a major role in their decision to call it quits.
Started in 1975, the 22-year-old West Bank parade rolled along its traditional Algiers-Terrytown route for the last time in 1995 after having trouble raising enough money to keep the good times rolling. Originally an all-female krewe, it began allowing men to ride to comply with a city anti-discrimination ordinance, but even then membership wasn't high enough to keep it rolling.
From 1968 to 1993, the parade rolled first through Gentilly before relocating to a downtown route. Tight finances, however, were its eventual undoing. At the time, Pandora captain Diane Buras said the krewe had been relying on bingo games to keep itself afloat. With the rising popularity of Mississippi coast casinos, however, that revenue dried up. Not even a 1993 merger with the original Krewe of Freret could keep things going.
When the Krewe of Pegasus stopped parading in 2009, it marked something of the end of an era. Started in 1966, the Uptown krewe had rolled for more than 40 years.
Started in 1959, the West Bank parade rolled through Gretna for years. It hit the streets for the last time in 1995 after having trouble raising enough money to finance its annual parade.
After 41 years of rolling down Veterans Memorial Boulevard, the Jefferson Parish krewe ceased parading in 2011 in the faces of economic difficulties. Originally an all-female krewe, it grew to include whole families. At the time of its last parade, officials held out hope to once return to the streets, but that has yet to happen.
Founded in 1984, the nomadic Krewe of Saturn rolled first in Kenner, then in Metairie before moving back to Kenner and eventually to New Orleans. But the threatening skies under which it rolled in 2005 turned out to be an omen. That parade would be its last, as it wouldn't return from Hurricane Katrina.
For a decade starting in 1977, the all-female krewe paraded in New Orleans East before becoming one of three clubs to disband before Carnival 1986 (the others being Vulcans and Arabi.) "All four clubs, which last year averaged about 100 members each, said they face the same problems -- dwindling income and mounting expenses," a Times-Picayune story read at the time. "Increases in liability insurance, taxes on beads and throws, and higher costs for city marching permits have placed a heavy burden on organizations that draw their main support from members' yearly dues."
The Mystic Krewe of Shangri-La
Started in 1973 in St. Bernard Parish, by 1982 it had grown to become the largest all-woman Carnival krewe in the history of Mardi Gras. After parading in in Chalmette for its first 18 years, it moved to an Uptown New Orleans route in 2000. It never fully recovered from a membership crisis suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, however. The parade went on for five years, in 2009 downsizing to become a French Quarter "carriage parade and stroll." Finally, in 2010 Shangri-La announced it would cease to be a parading organization.
Started in 1990, the Metairie parade rolled for a decade before low membership and financial woes prompted its disbanding. "We just fell on hard times," krewe Captain John Ridgely told The Times-Picayune in February 1999. Not coincidentally, the disbanding came a year after Jefferson Parish officials gave the Sinbad parade a rating of 15 out of 100 -- the lowest of the parish's krewes that year.
At its peak, the Metairie parade featured 28 floats and as many as 700 riders. Then, in 2014 -- four decades after it started in 1974 -- its membership dropped below the 10-float minimum required by Jefferson Parish law. "We didn't want to put something out that we didn't think was good enough," krewe captain Mac Cantrell Jr. told The Times-Picayune.
When the Krewe of Grela moved from the Saturday before Fat Tuesday to the big day itself, a number of members decided to form a new krewe so they could continue to ride on Saturday. That krewe, formed in 1989, was Ulysses. But when the city of Gretna shortened its Carnival season by a day in 2003, forcing Ulysses to move to Sunday, members bristled. Not only would floats likely be unavailable, they said, but they faced competition for parade-goers from the Orleans Parish Krewe of Bacchus. With that, Ulysses became the latest in a long line of West Bank parades to disappear.
For 51 years, the Orleans Parish parade rolled, making it the oldest all-female Carnival krewe in the city. After a decline in membership, however -- and thus a decline in money generated by membership dues -- in 1992 it pulled the plug on its parade, which traditionally rolled on St. Charles Avenue on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. "We did not feel we were going to be able to go forward as we had in the past," a member of the krewe's board of directors told The Times-Picayune at the time. "We want to be remembered as top-notch, rather than go down in the eyes of the citizens as having something that's raunchy."