Parading In The Summer: What We Learned From The Nyx Plan
Seldom has a non-event provided so many examples of what not to do. There were plenty reasons for the Krewe of Nyx’s proposal to stage a summer parade in July to be dismissed. LaToya Cantrell did the right thing in rejecting the idea. She used a very mayoral reason, public safety, by arguing that the parade would put too much of a strain on the police department during hurricane season. Mayors have to think about practical answers such as that and leave the aesthetic arguments to pundits and geeks who add other objections such as Mardi Gras not being compromised by a summer imitation of a winter celebration. This being June, we doubt that there would have been time to build new floats for the parade; instead there would have been a procession of rent-a-floats plus, it was announced, that the riders would wear themed t-shirts instead of costumes and would not wear masks – all in violation of Mardi Gras parade standards. This would not have been good.
We do not know if the organizers would have profited from the effort. They did promise to donate some funds to the city’s recreation department. That’s a noble idea, tough fund raising should never be regarded as a blank check to do whatever a group wants and to not conform to rules.
We are not against parades in the summer, even during hurricane season, but they should be more contained neighborhood marches. The Carrollton area Krewe of Oak and some of the social aid groups stage summer marches but they are small, have short routes and do not involve bulky floats. There is no confusion with Mardi Gras, just folks having fun.
To its credit, Nyx has come a long way in a short time as a legitimate Carnival parade filling the streets along the Uptown route on the Wednesday evening before Mardi Gras. It was influenced by the amazing growth of Muses, which created more opportunities for women to participate. Nyx opened the door even wider. Sometimes rapid success can be overwhelming and there needs to be a moment to put on the brakes and look around. There comes a point in the evolution of every krewe where the number of riders doesn’t matter, but quality always does. And if there are plans to do something new, perhaps the local government and krewe members should be advised beforehand.
In response to the mayor’s announcement to prohibit the parade, a Nyx press release reluctantly accepted the decision but borrowed from contemporary jargon to promise that the krewe would continue breaking glass ceilings. That’s ok, I guess, as long as it is understood that ceilings also provide safety and protection. Not all need to be broken; not even the glass ones.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M.WYES-TV, CH. 12.