In announcing Kenner’s first full-scale Mardi Gras season parade in a generation, city officials on Wednesday (June 12) presented a 4¼-mile route starting at The Esplanade shopping mall and ending at the Pontchartrain Center. The Krewe of Isis will take the route Feb. 22 along five major thoroughfares, past a reviewing stand at City Park and through several residential neighborhoods.
See route map below or at this link:
Moving Isis from Metairie, where it has paraded for most of its 47-year history, marks the culmination of three months of talks between the all-women krewe and city officials after Jefferson Parish officials proposed changes in the Metairie route and schedule. But if Mayor Ben Zahn scored a coup for Kenner, Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, whose district includes the Metairie route, expressed no disappointment.
“If we don’t grow and change, that’s when things run into trouble. So we embrace this change,” Van Vrancken told a new conference attended by public officials, Isis members and others. “This is a win-win. ... While the move back to Kenner won’t have you on the Metairie route, you will have a route that keeps you in Jefferson Parish. ... This is a great move for Isis, one that will take you into the future.”
The new location lets Isis continue parading on the Saturday three days before Fat Tuesday. Jefferson officials have been encouraging most Metairie krewes to parade a week earlier, on the “first weekend” of Carnival, to avoid competing for spectators with New Orleans superkrewes Endymion and Bacchus. But Isis’ float provider, the Krewe of Carrollton, uses them on the first weekend.
Metairie takes Mardi Gras season parades in a new direction
Isis also had resisted Jefferson officials’ encouragement to parade in 2019 on a new east-to-west route along Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie. Isis and two other float parades, Caesar and Argus, stuck with the conventional eastbound route on Veterans, and Caesar decided after Carnival to “cease operations."
Yet Isis captain Sherrell Gorman said neither the route nor the date change was solely responsible for the move to Kenner. “It’s not the route. It’s not one thing in particular,” she said. “It’s that we want to be bigger. We want to be better.”
Gorman says the krewe has about 200 members but expects close to 300 for next year’s parade. She predicted that more krewes will follow Isis to Kenner.
Isis was founded as the Krewe of Athania in 1972 by Joyce Blondeau, a dance instructor in Kenner, and changed its name after one year. For its first seven years of parading, beginning in 1973, it rolled in Kenner before moving as part of a gradual consolidation of all Mardi Gras season parades in East Jefferson on the Veterans route.
Blondeau, now 85, attended Wednesday’s news conference. She said she was thrilled that Isis will again parade in Kenner.
Kenner last hosted a major Carnival parade in 1992. Zahn hailed news of Isis’ return as a homecoming for the krewe - and one element in his 2018 inauguration promise to make Kenner a “destination city” by the end of this year.
Jefferson officials, meanwhile, have been tinkering with Carnival for two decades but remain unsatisfied with the overall quality of the Metairie parades and spectator experience. In rapid succession, they’ve now lost both Isis and Caesar, at least for 2020, although the Krewe of Kings debuted this year and the new Krewe of Mad Hatters is expected to roll next year.
Mardi Gras season krewe considers parading in Kenner, after four decades in Metairie
Watch the news conference:
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Drew Broach covers Jefferson Parish politics and education plus other odds and ends. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: Drew Broach TP. Twitter: drewbroach1.