It has been a strange two years for all of us. Lockdowns, remote work, masks, vaccinations, travel restrictions... Through all of it, we have held that hope that things will get 'back to normal'. The conviction may have wavered, and the target for that goal has been moved a few times, but it has always been there. As things have started opening back up, each of those things that come back feel like another step in the right direction. This is one of those things.
The reigning champ of Mardi Gras parades finally returned in 2022. Zulu. During Covid, the residents of New Orleans lost a little bit of the magic that makes it someplace special. The old and unique city, just wasn’t quite the same without Mardi Gras. The empty feeling in the pits of the stomachs of those that call New Orleans home vanished alongside the thunder of the Zulu Krewe marching down the streets.
Since 1909, the Krewe of Zulu has captured the spirit of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Zulu parade typically ends the week of Mardi Gras festivities with a flash of excitement. Unlike many of the other Carnival parades, Zulu is a largely black organization and has long been a favorite amongst the people that call the Crescent City home. On Fat Tuesday, March 1st, the parade began in the Central City district. The parade then traveled through Downtown, bypassing the French Quarter, and ending in the Treme neighborhood.
The costumes at the Zulu parade are always the brightest and boldest of the carnival season and this year was no exception. From the vibrant colors of the feathered headdresses, to the lovely woven outfits, adorned with sequins, none of them disappoint. The floats this year were based on the theme of “Zulu Salutes Divas and Legends,” and many of the floats were just as colorful as the costumes. The Zulu parade always has a more familial and celebratory feel than many of the other parades. It’s common to see people barbecuing and children throwing footballs in the street, as the city prepares to close out the Carnival season.
One of one the most popular events of this parade is the Coconut throw. Each parade has specific items that are limited in number and that the krewe members decorate and hand out. For the Zulu parade, this just so happens to be a coconut. People at the parade get competitive in their attempts to catch one. It’s common to think you’ve caught one, only to have it ripped from your hand by another in the crowd. The coconuts are usually hand painted and feature various designs on them. The history of the coconut’s inclusion in the Zulu parade dates back several decades and originally came about due to an attempt to compete with the glass beads thrown at many of the better funded parades that were occurring throughout the city.
See you next year Mardi Gras! I Can hardly sleep thinking about it…If I close my eyes and its quiet out, I can still hear the drums marching down the street…