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The History and Tradition of Mardi Gras

The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

Most of these dates and historical data have been verified by articles, references from saved clippings and articles from the old Creole newspaper, " The bee ", Times-Picayune archives, references sources at Tulane University, "The Lords of Misrule" by James Gill, University of Mississippi Press, "Mardi Gras Indians", " Negro Soldiers: In the Battle of New Orleans" by Marcus Christian, " Arthur Hardy Mardi Gras Guide: 23rd Edition" by Arthur Hardy Enterprises, Amistad Resource Ctr, @ New Orleans, La. and Other independent sources.

© 2002 - 2005 Mardi Gras Digest

The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

482 years of History and Counting



The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

No other state has a more varied or colorful past than Louisiana. The state has been governed under 10 different flags beginning in 1541 with Hernando de Soto's claim of the region for Spain. La Salle later claimed it for Bourbon France and over the years Louisiana was at one time or another subject to the Union Jack of Great Britain, the Tricolor of Napoleon, the Lone Star flag of the Republic of West Florida and finally the fifteen stars and stripes of the United States. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Louisiana became an independent republic for six weeks before joining the Confederacy.

preceding 1519 ----- The Indian Village of Tchoutchuoma, stands in or very near the place of what is to become the Colony/Fort/Port of New Orleans. Native Americans tribes in the locale were known to be, the Attakapa; the Caddo; the Tunica; the Natchez; the Muskhogean, and the Chitimacha.

The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

1519 ----- Alvarez de Pindea discovers mouth of the Mississippi
1541-42 ----- Hernando de Soto discovers the Mississippi River

The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

1682 ----- Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, erects a cross at the mouth of the Mississippi River after descending the river from the Great Lakes and claims the territory for Louis XIV of France, for whom Louisiana is named.
1694 ----- First recorded breakout of regional attacks from and at the hands of the tribes of the area. The colony after repeatedly being warned, not to harass the native Indian hunting parties, wipe out two such parties in as many weeks. The Indians respond by denying the colonies access to a large area of what is now the La.-Ala. border.   

1699 ----- Pierre Le Moyne', declares his camp "Pointe du Mardi Gras", (Mardi Gras Point), as Louisiana's first European settler's entered the Mississippi Delta Gulf Coast Region. This point is located 60 miles downstream, from  Algiers Point in New Orleans on the river. It is at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

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The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

1700 -----  Talks breakdown between the native Indians and the colony of Mobile. War is declared by both sides. Several small skirmishes ensue with no clear winner. French Troops are brought in to put down the Indian uprising. It would take 8 years.  

1704 ----- Mobile is the capital of the french province of Louisianne. Masque De La Mobile celebrated until 1709

1708 ----- French troops now begin to win battle after battle with the Indians. Most Indians at this point have simply moved inland and far away from the settlement at Mobile. Most of the Indian nations have had enough.

1710 ----- Boeuf Graf Society formed in Mobile

1711 ----- Native Indians first taken as slaves to exploit the cheap source of labor to clear the area to be used as a port. Some were Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Blackfoot. Boeuf Graf Society that formed in Mobile, in 1710, holds it's first parade in 1711, during the New Year's celebration.

1715 ----- Louis Juchereau de St. Denis establishes Fort St. Jean Baptiste (Natchitoches), first permanent settlement in the Mississippi Valley

1718 ----- Jean-Baptise Le Moyne', Pierre's brother, founds the port colony of Nouvelle Orle'ans, (New Orleans). Indians slaves are among the thieves, cut throats, prostitutes, beggars that are the first settlers. The St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is built, the oldest in the United States.

1719 ----- After the Indians prove to be to much trouble to be good slave labor, the first 2 shiploads of African Slaves arrive at the port of New Orleans, for sale in New Orleans. Napoleon also used the port for a respite for the slaves and crew after the trip from Africa to give the crew a chance to clean and re-outfit the ships for the trip to Haiti. Slaves are given their first chance to stretch out on dry land. Some would be sold here, in a slave auction house located in the French Qtr. Most were held in the slave pens on what is now Camp street.

1722 ----- First Known escape of a slave, from a plantation. No mention of his name or if he was ever found.

1723 ----- New Orleans becomes the capital of Louisiana, superseding Biloxi.

1724 ----- Jews were officially excluded and forbidden to enter New Orleans. Most found their way into the city anyway, they just didn't tell anyone that they were Jews.

1725 ----- The first recorded cases of blacks escaping into the bayou aided by the native Indians of the area. With the Indians help, the slaves learn to survive off the land and lived in the forest camps, just outside the city, known as Maroon Camps. Blacks relationship with Indians would spawn the beginning tribe of the Mardi Gras Indians many years later, as tribute and thanks from the African American Culture. This is thought to be some of the first confirmed contact. 

1729 ----- Most of 280 African Slaves owned by a company of the West Indies, join with the Natchez Indians in what is to become the " Natchez Revolt." An attempt by the Indians to prevent their sacred lands from being seized, as the French try to develop their Fledgling tobacco industry. The Indians had promised the slaves freedom in exchange for their help. First reference to slaves dancing in Congo Square.

1732 ----- First recorded reference to slaves dancing at gatherings held on the plantations. African Slaves were highly valued at this time in New Orleans history, as were the free men of color for their considerable trade skills. French rule had a sort of live and let live approach to slavery, so much so that slaves were " given the weekend off to go into town, and " to earn money", which could be used to buy their freedom.

1735 ----- Jean Louis, a sailor, leaves his savings to establish the first charity hospital in New Orleans. Now called Charity hospital still stands and is open. Mardi Gras is now openly celebrated on the plantations by slaves when permitted to do so. Free Men of Color  & Creoles now beginning to mask when leaving the colored section of town.

1736 ----- Governor Beinville and his Negro troops attack the English and their Indian allies in the Chickasaw War. Simon, a Free Negro who accompanied Bienville, led a company of 45 to 50 free Negroes, in that battle.

1743 ----- The Marquis de Vaudreuil, early Louisiana governor, has established elegant society balls that became the model for the upper class Carnival Ball Masque celebrations of later generations. These balls are held at his home and could have started as early as 1741.

1744 ----- The "Place de Negroes", (later known as Congo Square) becomes the established place to meet, transact business, get news, etc, on Sundays, for free men of color, and later for the area slaves, as they began to sell produce and other goods to accumulate money to buy their freedom. It is also here that they would first begin to celebrate Mardi Gras openly and among themselves. 

1746 ----- References to slaves dressing as Indians as the African Americans celebrate Mardi Gras in their customary fashion. 

1756 ----- More than 40 slaves escape into the swamps and bayou's of the state. Aided by the "Maroon camps", their numbers began to swell as free men of color. Squaws are known to be in the camps, and some bear children which are known as mulatto's.

1764 ----- First four Acadian families arrive in Louisiana from New York. This is the beginning of what we know today as the Cajun's.

1769 ----- The French settlers start to take advantage of the female slaves, with some becoming willing sex slaves to make their life easier. Many bear children for the master's but make deals with them that their children are born free, and that their parents are well taken care of. These are the first true African Creoles.

1771 ----- Free Men of color are now holding parties in the back areas of the cities and in the Maroon Camps, during Mardi Gras celebrations. Laws are established classifying different colors of Creoles, from Quadroon (one-fourth) to Octoons (one-eighth), but some people go even further, trying to define " heritage". 

1779 ----- Governor Bernado de Galvez, accompanied by 80 free Negro's and men of color, attack English positions at Baton Rouge, Manchac, and Natchez.

1781 ----- The Spanish administration of the city at the Cabildo, grants a prohibition of black persons from being masked, wearing feathers, and attending night balls. The later, as some were sneaking in to the balls and only discovered days afterwards, causing great embarrassments to the cream of society.

1783 ----- The Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association is formed as the first of hundreds of such organizations . The Association became the cornerstone of most of the African American walking clubs, Ball Only clubs and Carnival Organizations.

1792 ----- The first public Theater & ballroom appears as the " La Salle Conde", opens in New Orleans. This brings some Culture to New Orleans. " But culture still eludes the inhabitants", according to the early papers written by visitors. " They wander from ballrooms to cards, from cards to billiards, from billiards to dice, and from dice back to the ballrooms", they wrote.

1793 ----- Mobile hosts a parade on "Twelfth Night", by the Spanish Mystics. These parades are orderly, and well organized as compared to the celebration in New Orleans, which was rough, with no organized activities. People simply celebrated as individuals the best way for themselves.  

1795 ----- Twenty-three conspirators were hanged when the Spanish authorities discovered plans for a slave uprising from the free men of color, who themselves, owned slaves. The bodies hung from gibbets (hanging Posts) for several days along the river.

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The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

1783-1803 ----- Under Spanish/French rule, free Negro's and free men of color, were an integral part of the colonial militia whose peacetime duties were patrolling the streets of New Orleans after dark and the maintenance of Law and Order.

1803 ----- The Louisiana Purchase takes place. America Troops march into New Orleans to take possession of the colony. Things will never be the same for the slaves, Creoles, and free men of color, after the "arrogant American White Trash arrives". With the acquisition of Louisiana, Jefferson nearly doubled the size of the fledgling U.S. and made it a world power. Later, 13 states or parts of states were carved out of the Louisiana Purchase territory.

1804 -----  Fights began to break out as tempers flare about whether French or English music is to be played at the Carnival balls. New ordinance requires two policeman to be present and no weapons to be carried at the balls.

1805 ----- Census of the time, counts 3551 whites, 3105 slaves, 1566 free people of color, and 253 of "all other persons "in New Orleans. Total of 8475 inhabitants. First "Quadroon", or Creole ball held during Carnival season. William Claiborne, formally of Tennessee, is Governor.

1806 ----- Americans acting on a "rumor", bans masking, and some balls, as a possible cover for spies for Aaron Burr. Burr who killed Alexander Hamilton in the famous duel was rumored to be planning a take over of New Orleans to form his own empire in the United States.

1807 ----- Governor Claiborne addresses the House of reps and the Legislative Counsel, advising them of the importance of reviving the old Militia law. He recommends that the Free Men of color be given the measure of having a battalion for detected service to the colony.

1811 ----- The greatest slave revolt in American history takes place in St. John Parish, as an estimated 500 field hands walk off the upriver plantations. Sandwiched between Federal troops moving down from Baton Rouge, and the Battalion of soldiers made up of Free Men of color, they were trapped. Though well organized, they had been betrayed before they could get to New Orleans, with the battle ending in Jefferson Parish in what is today, Kenner, La. The revolt is put down savagely, by 1 company of Mulattos, troops (consisting of Indians, Negro's, Creoles, and free men of color).

1812 ----- Louisiana is admitted to the Union. The first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, the "The New Orleans," arrives at New Orleans from Pittsburgh on January 10, 1812.

1815 ----- The battalion of Free men of color is used at the battle of New Orleans, and distinguished themselves in Battle for the rest of the antebellum period. Due to their performance at the battle of New Orleans, plus the skills that made most very valuable, slaves as well as free men of color, enjoyed unprecedented freedoms during this time. However, this was about to change as fear of uprising and rebellion by the slaves, over rode good sense, common decency, and good judgment. It went down hill from there.

1820 ----- Of the 27,176 inhabitants of New Orleans, 6,237 were free people of color, 7,355 were slaves, 435 other, totaling 14,027 constituted a slight majority over the 13,584 whites. Remembering the 1811 uprising, and with the Creoles now openly at odds with the Americans, tensions ran high, and a Neutral Zone was established on Canal Street as the avenue was widened in preparation to dig a canal from Lake Ponchartrain north of the city to the Mississippi River creating a short cut trade lane and further separating the warring factions. The canal was never dug but the name stuck. Because it was laid out for the construction of an actual canal, but the project was never built, it remains the widest main street through a major city in the world.

1824 ----- Quadroon, (one-quarter Negro blood) and Octoons (one-eight Negro blood) began to celebrate Carnival in earnest now, reports abound that private parties are being held, with "masking and intimate goings on", said to be taking place. The first Society Ball at the Theater d' Orleans is held.

1827 ----- Creoles have now established complete dominance in the celebration of Mardi Gras as the Americans concentrate on Business, calling the Creoles stupid and foolish to continue to celebrate a foreign holiday. This Heralds in a brief golden age of the Creole Mardi Gras. The ban on balls is lifted in 1823 and the ban on masking virtually ignored.

1831 ----- Michael Kraft and the Cowbellion de Rakin Society, make it's debuts as a parade in Mobile, Al. as the way to bring in the New Year, on foot, but it would also herald in something much more significant in New Orleans, as history will reveal.

1835 ----- Newspaper reports of Mobile, Cowbellion de' Rankin Society parading thorough the streets of New Orleans. This may have been the first parade in New Orleans. It is certainly the earliest reference that is in written form.

1837-38 ----- First recorded reports of New Orleans street processions of maskers in long lines of carriages, and on horseback. These are mostly Creoles who have celebrated for some years now among themselves. Shreveport is founded.

1839 ----- Newspapers L'Abe'lle and Courior begin sporadic announcements of Mardi Gras events in advance.

1840 ----- Antoine's in New Orleans, the state's oldest continuously operating restaurant, is established. Cowbellion de' Rankin Society hold it's first themed parade ball in Mobile.

1841 ----- Hundreds mask as Bedouins Society (Creoles) stage their first formal parade in New Orleans. Many private parties and eleven balls were hell on a single night. First reports of maskers committing acts of violence, and general Mayhem.

1849 ----- Baton Rouge becomes capital of the state of Louisiana.
1845-1853 ----- Built by renowned local architect, James Gallier, Sr. sometime between 1845 and 1853, Gallier Hall served as New Orleans' City Hall for approximately 100 years.

1852 ----- Company of Bedouins present spectacular parade on horseback receiving acclaim.

1854 ----- Part of the Balcony of  The Theater d' Orleans collapses, Killing several during a Mardi Gras Ball.

1855 ----- Because of the violent antics of a few maskers, Creole newspaper, The Bee, proclaims Mardi Gras Dead.

1857 ----- Carnival reborn to it's present form. First Krewe is Comus, who coins the word. They are also first Krewe to; (1) choose a mythological namesake, (2) present a themed parade, (3) first to use floats in a Carnival parade, (4) and follow it with a Tableau Ball.

1861 ----- Louisiana secedes from the Union and after a brief period as a republic, joins the Confederacy.
1862 ----- The first salt mine is discovered at Avery Island, oldest in the Western Hemisphere.
1867 ----- After the Civil War has cancelled four years of celebrations, Comus returns with members masking as edible items. The theme is a long dining table, in the center, a candelabra, and different food items on the table. Shrimp first canned commercially at Grand Terre Island.
1868 ----- Louisiana is re-admitted to the Union.
1869 ----- First sulphur is produced in United States in Louisiana.

1871 ----- Carnival's second Krewe emerges as the Twelfth Night Reveler's. They select Mardi Gras's First ever queen by drawing a golden bean from a King Cake. They hold the first grand march at a masked ball. First account of  "Throws".

1872 ----- On New Year's Eve, The Mystik Knights of Momus, become the third Carnival organization to emerge on the scene. On Mardi Gras, and on horseback, Rex, parades for the first time and salutes the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis. Rex, the fourth Carnival organization to debut in modern Carnival, gives Carnival it's first daytime parade. Other firsts are the Carnival colors, song, and flag.

1873 ----- First Rex queen and ball. First parade constructed entirely in New Orleans, breaking with having the float pieces done in Paris, France, is Comus. Start of political satire in the parades.

1874 ----- Rex tradition of arriving by paddle wheeler on Lundi Gras is first seen.

1875 ----- Governor Warmoth, considered a carpetbagger and the then first black lieutenant governor Pinchback, sign into law the Mardi Gras Act, making it a legal holiday in Louisiana. But political and racial unrest cancels most of the season. Louisiana is still the only state, where Mardi Gras is a legal holiday.

1877 ----- Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of theses United States, removes federal troops from the statehouse of Louisiana, effectively ending reconstruction of the south after the civil war. Rex first themed parade rolls with 25 floats. First mention of the Mardi Gras Indians is made. No name of the tribe is given. It is however, not a good mention as it is the recorded skirmish between the Indians and a local black group.

1878 ----- The original Krewe of Phunny Phorty Phellows debutes with a satirical parade which follows Rex. PPP becomes the fifth carnival Krewe to enter the Carnival arena. 

1879 ----- Yellow fever outbreak causes the cancellation of most of the carnival season due to fear of the disease.

1882 ----- Becoming the sixth Krewe to enter Carnival the Krewe of Proteus is founded. The traditional "Climax of Carnival", the meeting of the courts of Comus and Rex, begins.

1883 ----- Confederate President Jefferson Davis' daughter, Winnie, reigns as Queen of Momus.

1884 ----- The "Knights of Carnival", parade on the northshore. Carnival officially spreads to the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. Last parade of Comus for five years due to money problem. Proteus assumes his spot in the parade calendar.

1885 ----- Creole Wild West, first Mardi Gras Indian tribe makes it's initial appearance. Phunny Phorty Phellows cease parading and disband.

1889 ----- In a spectacular display of the new invention of electricity, the Krewe of Electra wires 128 maskers with lighted helmets in it's debut and the first electric parade.

1890 ----- After a five year absence the Krewe of Comus resumes parading but Proteus will not yield the old Comus spot. Both organizations roll at the same time on different routes. In a heated exchange over which Krewe will enter the French Quarter first, swords are almost drawn when someone steps forward and leads the Captain of Proteus aside, thus barely avoiding an outright riot on Canal street. Jefferson City Buzzards, the first of the walking clubs is founded.

1891 ----- The Atlanteans debut with a very elegant gathering at the Grand Opera House.

1892 ----- Rex parade Symbolism of Colors, proclaims the Carnival colors of purple, gold and green to mean justice, power, and faith, respectively.

1893 ----- Proteus introduces the traditions of "Callouts at a Carnival Ball. Callouts are the introduction of debutants to society.

1895 ----- Wiley Knight, a butler from the northern U.S., starts the first black Carnival Organization since the Civil war. Hosting no parades the group, holds debutante balls for the coming out of society's young African Americans. Thus, the Original Illinois Club was borne. The Elves of Oberon hold their first tableau ball.

1896 ----- The first all female Krewe of Les Mystrieuses stages a tableaus ball, striking a blow for the women of New Orleans.

1897 ----- First Ball of the Krewe of the High Priests of Mithras.

1899 ----- Coldest Mardi Gras on record, temperatures dips to 7 degrees, as Rex parades with a frozen mustache. The Krewe of Proteus postpones their parade, until the first Friday in lent, a never to be repeated mistake.

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The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

1900 ----- The Krewe of Nereus', one and only parade, is mounted on streetcar bodies. Thus begins the era of the fastest expansion of Carnival history. During these 100 years, over 114 Krewes will be founded with over sixty calling it quits after 9 or less years on the roll.

1901 ----- Rex eliminates the live Boeuf Gras (the fatted ox) from his parade. A little known group of blacks start to march on the back streets making fun of the Rex parades, the first recorded parade of the Tramps. They hand out and throw, "golden nuggets", which are gold painted walnuts.

1904 ----- First mention, of a jazz funeral is made.

1909 ----- The Tramps Social Aid & Pleasure Club is founded. They parade in the back streets of New Orleans, as it is illegal to use the main thoroughfares to parade for a black Krewe. The tramps have fun with their parade, a style of wit and biting satire. Some mistake this as a snipe at the Rex parades. With William Story as it's king, the Krewe is the first to bring some signs of commercialism to Carnival as most of the floats become sponsored by bars.

1910 ----- The first recorded reference of the trademark of the modern Zulu parade is made. The Tramps, hands out the first " Coconut". Up to this point the club threw gold painted walnuts, which were called "golden nuggets".

1912 ----- "Mardi Gras Mix-Up", the first movie about Carnival in New Orleans is released.

1915 ----- The name "Jazz" is formally given to folk music of New Orleans origin. It was originally spelled "Jass". With some erasing the "J" or having problems with the name they start to spell the name with "zz". The krewe of Osiris is founded.

1916 ----- The Tramps change their name and becoming the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, Inc., rolls for the first time under it's present club name.

1917 ----- Rex calls an end to his arrival by river. The Krewe of Iris is founded.

1918 ----- World War I forces Krewes to cancel Carnival for the next two years.

1919 ----- Fire destroys the French Opera House, home of several Tableau Balls since 1859.

1920 ----- Rex rolls in the only parade of this Carnival season. It is prohibition and it strikes Mardi Gras hard.

1922 ----- The "Ancient Order of Druids", rolls for the first time.

1923 ----- The Mystik Club debuts.

1924 ----- The "Seventh District Carnival Club", with J.W. Forsyth as king, rolls for the first time. This group will soon become known as The Krewe Of Carrollton.

1926 ----- The first recorded children's Carnival Ball is held. Louisiana's first public airport is built in Mansfield.

1928 ----- Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is established, the oldest fishing tournament in the United States.

1930 ----- The parade of the Krewe of Proteus becomes the first  nationally broadcast, of Mardi Gras. The Municipal Auditorium becomes the permanent site for most of the Carnival Balls, and prohibition is repealed. Mardi Gras is back in full swing.

1931 -----"The Mystik Krewe", by Perry Young is published. By some in the carnival circles, it is considered the bible of research on Mardi Gras at the time.

1932 ----- New capitol is completed in Baton Rouge.

1933 ----- The Great Depression forces causes the Krewe of Momus to miss the first of another five year absence. The bards of bohemia hold their first ball. Rex fails to roll, in the only rain out in his history. The Krewe of Allah rolls for the first time in the westbank community of Algiers.

1934 ----- The Children's Krewe of New Orleans Romance (NOR), rolls for the first  time. The Ancient Order of Druids roll for the final time, after 13 seasons of parades.

1935 ----- The Elks Krewe of Orleanians rolls for the first time as the "Truck Parades", emerge onto the Carnival season calendar for the first time. Senator Huey Long is assassinated in the state capitol. First Sugar Bowl game is played -- Tulane 20, Temple 14.

1938 ----- Hermes, which has helped to bring Carnival out of the great depression the preceding year, introduces neon lighting to the floats.

1939 ----- The Krewe of Virgillians present their first ball. In a demonstration of the spirit of a Krewe to preserver, Choctaw, stages a parade with a single float.

1940 ----- The Parade Calendar grows officially to a full week, with the debut of the Krewe of Babylon.

1941 ----- In yet another sign, that the Carnival Spirit is felt deeply by a Krewe, Venus Carnival's first female parading Krewe, rolls it's first parade, in a driving downpour of rain.

1942 ----- World War II, cancels most of Carnival. No parades roll, but some celebrations are held. This continues until 1945, the end of the conflict.

1946 ----- With the war now over, Carnival resumes full swing, as Choctaw, rolls after starting it now famous river parade first. The Flambeau carriers, sometimes called in black neighborhoods, as the "keeper's of the light", go on strike as they demand $5 per parade.

1947 ----- The Krewe of Mid City introduces animated Floats. The Krewe of Cynthius debuts. Big Mobile Colored Carnival vs Zulu rift, over the dignity of the Zulu style. Mobile negroes reject the Vaudeville style of Zulu as "shameful." Zulu fails to take the matter seriously and 12 years later the subject takes an ugly toll on the krewe.

1948 ----- The first Lady, Mrs. Harry S. Truman and daughter attend Mardi Gras. First parades of Thoth and Grela The Mystik Krewe of Louisiana's are founded in Washington, D.C. Blain Kern builds the Kern company's first float for the Krewe of Alla.

1949 ----- Zulu becomes the first Krewe to have a celebrity King. New Orleans' famous jazz and coronet player, Louis Armstrong rules and re-focuses national attention to Mardi Gras, in New Orleans once again. Iris ball and several night time parades are telecast for the first time by WDSU channel 6. The Krewe of Caronis rolls for it's first and only parade. The Krewe of JEFFLA, and Adonis debuts on the carnival scene. After 11 seasons of parades the children's Krewe of NOR, departs.

1950 ----- International news is made when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor bow to the make believe monarch of Rex at the ball. The Krewe of Okeanos, makes it's debute on the streets of New Orleans. After 100 years of faithful service to the Carnival Tradition, and history, the mules and their handlers are retired from service, to be replaced with tractors. Rex Den burns to the ground in a December fire. The Krewe of Cynthius after 4 seasons calls it quits with it's final roll.

1951 ----- Korean conflict affects Carnival, forcing Rex to cancel. The Krewe of Patria rolls in his place, with twenty floats, and features a war vet as it's King. The Krewe of JEFFLA, after only three seasons, rolls then departs the carnival scene.

1952 ----- The Krewe of Midas, Orion and the Krewe of Freret debuts it's parade.

1953 ----- The Krewe of Cronus, debuts on the carnival scene.

1954 ----- Trumpeter Johnny Wiggs releases the first recording of "If ever I cease to Love", and Mardi Gras Mambo hits the airwaves.

1957 ----- The Krewe of Orion after rolling for 6 seasons rolls for the final time.

1958 ----- The Krewe of Gemini, Arabi,  and the Krewe of Helios debuts on the carnival scene.  The Babylon parade was postponed because of snow.  101 years of parades toasting dignitaries at Gallier Hall (old City Hall) ends with rerouting past the new Civic Center.  Parades hit suburbia with first outings of Arabi, Poseidon, Zeus and Helios.  The Krewe of Yuga, first gay club, presents private ball. The Krewe of Midas departs the Carnival field after only 5 seasons. 

1959 ----- After a 50 year hiatus, Rex reintroduces Boeuf Gras float. The Krewe of Gemini, rolls for it's final appearance after it's debut last season. At his army post in Fort Benning, Ga. Alvin Johnson hears from relatives back home that his song, "It's Carnival Time", is being played.

1960 ----- Rex throws first doubloon, a novel idea by local artist and inventor H. Alvin Sharpe.

1961 ----- Racial pride and the black movement of the times, almost cancels Zulu parade; its king resigns. Club enrollment hits an all time low of 16, after the parade. In a repeat of the 1947 accusation, the Zulu are said to be an embarrassment to Blacks. Pete Fountain's Half Fast Walking Club begins annual trek.

1962 ----- The Krewe of Aphrodite - N.O., debuts on the carnival scene.  The Krewe of Petronius debuts with first ball. Krewe of Zulu sees it's numbers start to rebound after some public member campaigning. They explain the real nature of what the Zulu style is really about.

1963 ----- The traditional Gallier Hall toast reinstated.  Mid City unveils "Greatest Bands in Dixie" contest. The Krewe of Cronus becomes the first of only three Krewes to make their final roll in the sixties, after 7 seasons of parades. Tulane University accepts five black students, the first in its history.

1964 ----- The Krewe of Jason, debuts on the carnival scene. The Krewes of Adonis, and Aphrodite becomes the only other parading Krewes, besides Cronus, to say farewell during the 1960's. Adonis was a mainstay of the season with 16 seasons under it's belt.

1965 ----- Hurricane Betsy destroys property of several Carnival Krewes.   First Bourbon Street Awards Costume Contest. City of Kenner's first parade rolls as Jason premieres.

1966 ----- The Krewe of Pegasus debuts in a down pour.

1967 ----- The Krewe of Endymion begins as a small neighborhood parade.

1968 ----- The Krewe of Mecca, Pandora and the Krewe of Sprites debuts on the carnival scene. The Krewe of Pandora debuts in Gentilly. Loyola college students start Krewe of Tucks, named after uptown bar. The  Krewe of Zulu rolls for the first time on St. Charles and Canal as a major parade. Before this year, you had to search for the warriors on the back streets of the city. Krewe of Sprites debute.

1969 ----- The Krewe of Amor, Hercules, Jupiter and the Krewe of Mokana debuts on the carnival scene. New Krewe of Bacchus shakes Carnival by breaking tradition introducing celebrities a monarchs and holding an open ball, to which admission an be gained by non-members. 

1970 ----- The Krewe of Juno, debuts on the carnival scene. Glass beads from Czechoslovakia replaced by plastic from Hong Kong. Tragedy hits Carnival as tornado strikes Carrollton parade. First parades of Atlas and NOMTOC. St. Bernard's Krewe of Amor becomes first club to ride with both men and women.

1971 ----- This year there were many empty hotel rooms as fears of violent "hippie" invasion prove groundless. Krewe of Rhea parade in Metairie extends parade calendar to two full weeks.

1972 ----- The Krewe of Alpheus, Hesper, NOLAMISS, Pan, and the Vikings of Tyr debuts on the carnival scene.

1973 ----- The Krewe of Athena, Daughters of Eve, Romulus & Remus debuts on the carnival scene. Romulus & Remus holds it's one and only parade. A 117 year tradition ends with a ban on parading through the French Quarter. Record number of 68 carnival balls were held at the auditorium. Bob Hope reigns as Bacchus. The First Cleopatra parade rolls.

1974 ----- The Krewe of Nike, debuts in the one and only  carnival parade. Endymion, destined as the first parading organization to enroll over 1,000 members. The Krewe graduates from a neighborhood parade into a super Krewe. Metairie gets own at Tuesday parades as Argus rolls through Fat City. First Gladiators and Shangri-La parades in St. Bernard and Isis rolls in Kenner. The Krewes of Athena and Alpheus, after 2 seasons, Hesper after 3 seasons, and Nike make their final rolls.

1975 ----- The Krewe of Aquarius, Nefertari, and the Krewe of Phoenix, debuts on the carnival scene. The first parades of Nefertari and Thor roll. Krewe of Mardi Gras parades on Fat Tuesday night in Metairie. Centaur, parade debut in it's one and only appearance. Also taking their final rolls are Jason, Mokana, NOLAMISS, and the Vikings of Tyr. This makes 1975, the worst year of Krewe losses on record to this point. The Super Dome in New Orleans is completed, with a final cost of $163,313,315 for building and grounds.

1976 ----- The Krewe of Chalimar, debuts on the carnival scene. Mardi Gras extends to New Orleans East with first Ponchartrain parade. The Krewe of Aquarius, and Phoenix, rolls for the second and last season.

1977 ----- The Krewe of Hestia, Minerva, and the Krewe of Selena debuts on the carnival scene. Aquila debuts it's parade in the city of Metairie. Arthur Hardy's first publication of the Mardi Gras guide. The guide is destined to become a staple at the celebration. After 20 parades the Krewe of Helios, which debuted in 1958, rolls for the final time. Bacchus parades through the Superdome. Ernest Morial is elected mayor of New Orleans, becoming the city's first black mayor.

1978 ----- The Krewe of King Authur debuts in the city of Gretna. It's captain is the youngest yet in the history of New Orleans Carnival. The city of Metairie adopts a standard parade route. After 7 parades, the Krewe of Pan, rolls for the last time. Also, the Krewe of Sprites, which debuted in 1968, rolls for the final time after 11 seasons of parading. Zulu opens it current den, on Broad Street with much fanfare, after spending years in the back of a business, uptown.

1979 ----- A police strike by the New Orleans Policemen forces the cancellation of 13 parades. The Krewe of Mardi Gras throws the first cups with a Krewe logo imprinted on it. 12 Orleans Krewes roll, in out- laying nearby suburbs. After, only three years, the Krewe of Hestia rolls for the last time. Also, the Krewe of The Daughters of Eve, rolls for the final time after a 7 year run. David Treen is elected governor, the first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

1980 ----- Caesar, rolls it's first parade in Metairie. The first and only parade of the Krewe of Haderus. The Krewe of Octavia, debuts the carnival scene. The Krewe of Chalimar, departs the Carnival scene, setting off the worst decade on record, for the lost of parading Krewe organizations. Total losses, 17!

1981 ----- The Krewe of Oz, debuts on the carnival scene. The Phunny Phorty Phellows revive with a Twelfth Night streetcar ride that heralds the arrival of the Carnival season. Endymion stages its Extravaganza in the Louisiana Superdome. The Knights of Sparta and Cops de Napoleon presents first parades. First Centurions parade in Harahan. Bacchus honors ex-Iranian hostage marine Sgt. John McKeel, Jr. as its king. The Krewe of Mecca, after 15 seasons of parades, rolls for the final time.

1982 ----- The Krewe of Icarius, and the Krewe of Love debuts on the carnival scene. Several safety measures were adopted after accidents in which one bandsman was shot and two children were killed beneath the wheels of floats, necessitating the formation of mayor's Mardi Gras Task Force. Hotel executives form Krewe of Icarius. The Krewe of Juno, Jupiter, and Love roll for the final time. Jupiter after 14 seasons of parades.

1983 ----- The Krewe of Atreus, Sampson & Delilah, and the Krewe of Titans, debuts on the carnival scene. Two Previous Krewes try to revive their organizations by combining their resources but cannot hold it together. Jupiter & Juno parade for their one and only time as a combined Krewe. Edwin W. Edwards becomes the first three-term governor.

1984 ----- The Krewe of Marc Anthony, debuts on the carnival scene. The first children's Krewe named Little Rascals debuts in Kenner. The first Saturn parade rolls. The Krewes of Oz, Icarius and Titans, roll for the final time.

1985 ----- The Krewe of Palmares, debuts on the carnival scene. Family costume contest, Mardi Gras Maskathon debuts on Canal Street. Record number of five parades roll on Fat Tuesday in St. Bernard Parish. The Krewe of Palmares introduces self-propelled floats. The Krewe of Atreus and Sampson & Delilah roll for the final time.

1986 ----- The Krewe of Vulcan, debuts and departs the carnival scene in it's one and only parade. The Krewe of Selena, Palmares and Arabi roll for the final time. Arabi after 30 seasons of parades. All time record of 55 parades held in three-parish area. Aphrodite's first parade in St. Bernard. Mercury debuts in Metairie.  

1987 ----- The Krewe of Carnival, debuts on the carnival scene. The Monday arrival of Rex at Spanish Plaza restarts old Lundi Gras tradition. Nationwide shipment of king cakes via Federal Express begins. New ordinance temporarily forbids Zulu from throwing coconuts. Satirical Krewe de Vieux premieres. The Krewe of Octavia, rolls for the final time. Louisiana celebrates the 175th anniversary of its admission into the Union.

1988 ----- The BBC presents a 4 hour live telecast of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. On, July 8th, the legislature passes bill #SB188 or more commonly known as the "coconut bill", which excludes the Zulu nut from liability as long as it is handed down form the float.

1989 ----- First parades of Ulysses, Bards of Bohemia.

1990 ----- The Krewe of Carnival rolls for the final time.

1991 ----- The Krewe of Silenus, debuts. The Krewe of Hercules, Comus, Momus, rolls for the final time. Operation Desert Storm affects Mardi Gras as many parades include a patriotic theme.

1992 ----- The Original Carnival Krewe of the modern era of Carnival, Comus, along with the second oldest parading Krewe, Momus, after 110 years of Carnival tradition, retire from the field, in protests to the anti-discrimination ordinance introduced by the New Orleans city council. Proteus, Carnival's third oldest surviving Krewe, parades, but also retires from the field, the following year, rather than sign the ordinance. The Krewes of Minerva, Proteus, Selenus and Venus also roll for the final time this year. Zulu joins Lundi Gras with the staging of it's own activities. It breaks the previous record of 6 for the worse years for krewe losses on record.

1993 ----- The Municipal Auditorium is converted to a gambling casino, thus moving carnival balls out. Krewes that use bingo as fund raisers are hard hit by newly legalized gambling competition. Metairie Fat Tuesday crowds top 800,000. New Orleans adopts parade rain out reschedule plan. Venus departs parade scene. Parade schedule is shuffled as Saturn moves from Kenner to New Orleans and Babylon takes over "Momus Thursday". The Krewe of Amor rolls for the final time.

1994 ----- Harry Connick, Jr. sires Krewe of Orpheus, the first super Krewe to include both men and women. Rex admits three African Americans as members. The Mardi Gras Museum opens in Kenner. After 42 seasons of parades, the Krewe of Frerets calls it quits after this run. Also the Krewe of Marc Anthony, and Pandora make their final run. 

1995 ----- The Krewe of Thebes debuts and departs the carnival scene. Press calls for caution as commercialism creeps into Carnival with Jefferson parish's approval of limited sponsorship of parades. The Krewe of Thebes, and Nefertari roll for the final time.

1996 ----- Economic impact study reveals $923 million spent during previous Carnival season. Krewe of Ashanti is permitted to parade in New Orleans with carriages instead of floats. Willie Clark, a local telecom worker, tires of looking at the same old Zulu coconut. He conceives of a better coconut, begins designing and planning it's development. 

1997 ----- The first parade of the Knights of Camelot. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee sues Krewe of Neptune over costs involved in policing parade. Television coverage of the meeting of the courts resumes over WYES-TV. The Krewe of Ashanti rolls for the final time. 

1998 ----- The Municipal Auditorium re-opens to 17 Carnival balls.  The Krewe of Orpheus unveils spectacular Leviathan float. Debut parades of Le Krewe d'Etat and Krewe of America. A New Zulu Coconut is sighted for the first time as test batch of about 20 is carved.  

1999 ----- Mardi Gras Coconuts. Com, a New Orleans website, begins year around coverage of Mardi Gras events, including a weekly online Radio program, entitled " Mardi Gras Digest ". King Zulu, 1999, Dr. Myron Moorehead, is presented with first of new carved Zulu Coconuts, which have been renamed Mardi Gras Coconuts to reflect their entrance to the mainstream Carnival stage. The Krewe of Choctaw, and Diana parade for the final time.

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The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

2000 ----- Proteus returns to parading after signing anti-discrimination ordinance, in 1999. Hopes run high that Comus will reconsider it's position in the matter and return to the fold. Calls for parades to re-enter the French quarter for the first time since 1973. Zulu club is lead by the first ever post-humorously reigning King. Zulu King Club, commission first of new King's Coconuts. The Krewe of America rolls for the final time. Willie Clark, the inventor / artist of the new mardi gras coconut, and an electronic engineer by trade, joins Zulu SA&PC, as an associate.

2001 ----- The krewes of King Arthur& Merlin, Muse, and Shangri-La, roll on the New Orleans parade routes for the first time. New carved Mardi Gras coconuts roll out full force for the first time. Mardi Gras Coconuts.Com begins regular coverage of Mardi Gras Balls with the ball review of King Arthur. It is the only other source of Ball coverage besides the local newspaper. The Krewe of Morpheus is formed.

2002 ----- The Super Bowl comes to New Orleans, Louisiana for the XXXVI playoff game. which causes a financial ruckus when the NFL moves the game from Jan. 28th. into the middle of Carnival on Feb. 3rd. The result is a split set of parades one week preceding, and one week after. The mixing of Mardi Gras Celebrations and the Super Bowl make for a record Crowd. Zulu endorses new Mardi Gras Coconuts and partners with MGC to bring the new art to it's full potential. The Krewe of Morpheus makes it's initial debute, in a driving rain. Gretna Mardi Gras is hit hard when Gretna Elks cancel their truck parade. Bards of Bohemia receive permit but drops out two months later, as Captain Larry Smith dies. Mardi Gras Coconuts splits off it's news section into a new site called Mardi Gras Digest, which debuts January 1, 2002. On October 19, 2002, Mardi Gras Coconuts are sold at an actual TV auction on WYES TV New Orleans. The 2 pieces fetch $50 dollars each. First ever parade attempt by openly gay krewe of LaCage aux Folles.

2003 ----- Krewe of Choctaw returns to Gretna parade schedule. Bards rolls and regains it's permit after dropping out in the 2002 season.  Krewe of Triton was set to debute in Metairie parade.  Three parades in Metairie switch weeks to more attract crowds from New Orleans. The city gives notice that the parade fee for 2004 is going up! Mardi Gras Digest .Com offers it first Mardi Gras Tour Package, sees its 1 millionth visitor to the site, and expands it's coverage to include Mobile, Alabama, the mother of Mystics. Krewe of LaCage aux Folles folds, as the captain, simply leaves town. A new Mardi Gras magazine début's from the publishers of Visitor magazine. The name, Mardi Gras Magazine.

2004 ----- The Krewe of Jason which rolled in Kenner in 1964 to 1966 makes a comeback. First Mardi Gras Indian Tribe brings up it's website, The Creole Osceola tribe. Mardi Gras Links.Com is sold to Compucast, Inc. Last issue of Mardi Gras Magazine printed because of the less than anticipated response from the public.

2005 ----- The Bards of Bohemia plan to drop parading from their club, but another captain steps forward to wrest control and the club does parade. Kenner picks up a ball only club, the krewe of LaSalle. The St. Bernard Krewes sees the test of a new route and a new club. Mardi Gras Digest, finally, after two years of promises, launches Mardi Gras Digest Magazine, to serve as the industry news and business magazine. NOMTOC website goes down, revamped site comes up under new name Jugs-Nomtoc.Org. This after porn masters hijack site for traffic. 

August 29th 2005 ----- Hurricane Katrina's eye brushes the eastern most side of New Orleans and lays waste to over the 4 parishes of Washington, St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Jefferson. Although Orleans escapes the initial winds and rains, a weakened Levee on the 17th street section gives way and 80% of New Orleans is flooded . Mardi Gras in those area are nearly wiped out for 2006, while FEMA is criticized for the agency's slow response. The area will never be the same....

2006 ----- Amid calls to hold Mardi Grs, the city rallies to hold celebrations despite the devastation of the city. The city calls on the krewes to consolidate the routes and they comply! Courts are either dropped all together of much reduced, as balls virtually disappear from the landscape. There are only one week of parades allowed. Struggling to find a way to finance the party, the city tried for the first time to commercialize the New Orleans Carnival.

2007 ----- Mardi Gras makes a tremendous comeback after the city, state, and federal government finally get their act together and begin plans for a robust recovery! Most krewes for the first time resume parading and the balls return. King Arthur and his krewe break the color barrier by crowning the first African-American monarch of a major krewe other than Zulu. Slidell's krewe of Gemini crowns a Hispanic monarch for the first time in the region.

The Social Aide and Pleasure clubs form for the first time a task force to look into and handle reports of police abuse. The police retaliate by raising parade fees to historic and illegal highs. The ACLU fearing the culture demise could lead to other more severe problems steps in and takes the N.O.P.D. to federal court and wins a more moderate fee structure. The police begin detailed surveillance of the clubs, in response to the loss.
Most of these dates and historical data have been verified by articles, references from saved clippings and articles from the old Creole newspaper, " The bee ", Times-Picayune archives, references sources at Tulane University, "The Lords of Misrule" by James Gill, University of Mississippi Press, "Mardi Gras Indians", " Negro Soldiers: In the Battle of New Orleans" by Marcus Christian, " Arthur Hardy Mardi Gras Guide: 23rd Edition" by Arthur Hardy Enterprises, Amistad Resource Ctr at New Orleans, La. and Other independent sources.

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The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana

To write or book the band by mail, write to:

Bayou Bandits
PO Box #1122
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055

The Bayou Bandits - Cajun, Zydecco, Creole and the Sounds of Louisiana