Purists are probably purple with rage. The daring all-female Mystic Krewe of Nyx, New Orleans’ largest Carnival parading groups, is holding a parade on July 27 in downtown New Orleans. The organization proudly proclaims that it will be “the only Krewe to have two parades.” The krewe’s annual Carnival parade rolls on the Wednesday before Mardi Gras.
Krewe captain Julie Lea said she’s still unsure of the scope of the procession, but predicts it could include up to 20 floats, 800 riders, plus bands and dancers. The theme of the first Nyx Summer Parade is “Summer Lovin’” and the krewe plans to produce a “1970s, hippie, peace and tie-dyed vibe,” according to Lea.
Instead of the Mardi Gras organization’s much-coveted decorated purses, riders will toss the sort of plastic shovels kids play with in the sand, to add a secondary “beachy summer theme.”
Lea said the reason for the parade is simple. Many members of the krewe’s army of riders (3,383 in 2019) felt it was too long to wait between Carnival seasons. She said that some krewe members ride in the Krewe of BOO! Halloween parade, which follows a Marigny to French Quarter to Canal Street to Warehouse District route. Krewe of BOO! became the model as Nyx conceived an off-season parade of their own.
“There’s nothing like riding past Jackson Square in a float,” Lea said.
Lea said the date of the parade has no particular symbolic meaning. It’s just a slow spot in the city’s busy celebration calendar. The Essence Festival, which takes place July 5 to 7, will be over, she explained and the White Linen Night art celebration comes on Aug. 3. So the krewe decided to drop the parade in between.
Lea believes Nyx’s “Summer Lovin’” parade will be a boon for the city, since it will draw out-of-town Nyx members and New Orleans staycationers during a slow patch for the hospitality industry.
Nyx is aware that there’s another summer Carnival-style parade, the annual Krewe of O.A.K’s Mid Summer Mardi Gras foot parade in the Carrollton neighborhood. That 31-year-old parade takes place at the mid-way point in the year between the last and the next Mardi Gras. Lea said Nyx deliberately avoided the date to circumvent competition.
Despite some fevered social media comments expressing disdain for the parade that have popped up since Nyx announced its plans, Lea said the reaction from the membership and others has been thumbs up.
Anyway, she said, the new parade won’t have any impact on Carnival.
“We expect that half of the people love it and half don’t. But why not? We didn’t want to dilute anything. It’s a summer parade, in a different place, at a different time of a year.”
Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at dougmaccash, on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.