Parade Time in New Orleans

New Orleans has dozens of parades during Carnival season, culminating in the biggest day of celebration today for Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. Most of these parades are staged by traditional social organizations, also known as "Krewes." Here are just a few of the many Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, in chronological order.

Krewe du Vieux

The Krewe du Vieux was founded in 1987 as a combination of various sub-krewes that had split from the Krewe of the Clones. The history of this parade is worth a detour to read.

...the Krewe grew from about 150 drunks stumbling through the French Quarter in search of a bar, to become a relatively well-organized group of about 600 (most of them still drunk), with an actual parade route.

The Krew du Vieux parade was held February 3rd with the theme "Habitat for Insanity." Watch a video of this year's parade.

Krewe of Barkus


The Krewe of Barkus is limited to dogs, and their parade February 11th is the only parade dogs can participate in. Proceeds from the parade and the ball afterwards go to animal charities. Watch a video of this year's Barkus parade.

Knights of Babylon


The Knights of Babylon held their parade February 15th. The historical theme is kept secret until the parade every year, and the identity of the Sargon (parade king) is never revealed at all. This year's theme was "1421 -The Chinese Expeditions."

Krewe of Endymion


The Krewe of Endymion parade is held the Saturday before Mardi Gras. Endymion is a relatively new krewe, staging its first parade in 1967. This parade is known for contemporary music, huge floats, elaborate costumes, and a king and queen selected by a drawing!

Krewe of Bacchus


The Krewe of Bacchus was founded in 1968 with the express purpose of revitalizing Carnival in New Orleans. Bacchus membership is open to anyone, including tourists! The parade was Sunday, featuring James Gandolfini as King Bacchus the XXXIX. See a portion of the Endymion and Bacchius parades from 2006 on video.

Krewe of Proteus


The Krewe of Proteus was organized in 1882, and is now the oldest parading krewe in New Orleans. When segregated krewes were ordered to stop participating in parades, Proteus dropped out, but returned to parading in 2000. Their parade was last night, on Lundi Gras (Fat Monday).

Krewe of Orpheus


The Krewe of Orpheus was founded in 1993 by Harry Connick Jr., his father, Harry Connick, Sr., and Sonny Borey. The music-themed parade parade was last night, with Patricia Clarkson as the celebrity monarch.

The Zulu Aid and Social Pleasure Club


The Zulu Aid and Social Pleasure Club first participated in a parade in 1901, but didn't take the Zulu name til 1909. They still wear their traditional (and controversial) blackface and grass skirts, and pass out coveted Golden Coconuts to the crowds. The Zulu parade is the first big parade in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday morning. Watch a video of the 2006 Zulu Parade.

The School of Design (The Rex Organization)


Rex is the king of the carnival! The Rex Parade (New Orleans largest) has been part of Mardi Gras since 1872, and takes place on Tuesday morning. The Rex (king) is a prominent citizen selected a year in advance, but he must keep his identity secret until the day before the parade. The mayor of New Orleans traditionally hands the key to the city over to Rex for Mardi Gras.

See more parade photographs here. Many of the fantastic parade floats are manufacured at Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World. Enjoy your Fat Tuesday!

11-Headed Buddha Statue to Be Revealed in Japan for First Time in 33 Years

Buddha statues come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The various poses and hand gestures of the Buddha represent different virtues, and any items he happens to be holding—say, a lotus flower or a bowl—have some religious significance.

But not all Buddha relics are created equal, as evidenced by the reverence paid to one particularly holy statue in Japan. The 11-headed figure is so sacred that it has been hidden away for 33 years—until now. Lonely Planet reports that the Buddha statue will be revealed on April 23 during the Onsen Festival in Kinosaki Onsen, a coastal town along the Sea of Japan that’s famous for its hot springs. The statue is kept inside Onsen-ji Temple, a religious site which dates back to 738 CE.

Al altar inside Onsen-ji temple

Patrick Vierthaler, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The big Buddha reveal, however, will be held elsewhere. For that, festivalgoers will need to ride a cable car to the top of Mount Taishi, where they’ll catch a glimpse of Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu, a name which means “11-faced goddess of compassion and mercy.” It will be hard to miss—at 7 feet tall, the statue would tower over most NBA players. Considered a natural treasure, it’s displayed in three-year blocks once every 33 years. So if you miss the initial reveal, you have until 2021 to catch a glimpse.

“The people of Kinosaki are very excited about this event, especially the younger generation," Jade Nunez, an international relations coordinator for the neighboring city of Toyooka, told Lonely Planet Travel News. "Those who are under 30 years old have never seen the statue in its entirety, so the event is especially important to them."

After paying their respects to the Buddha, festival attendees can take a dip in one of three hot spring bathhouses that will be free to use during the Onsen Festival.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

Miami to Host Inaugural Canine Film Festival

There’s an annual festival dedicated to internet cat videos, so it only makes sense that dog-lovers would create their own film event. As the Miami New-Times reports, the Magic City will host the inaugural Canine Film Festival on July 15 and 16. The fundraising event encourages movie lovers to enjoy submitted flicks with their furry friends.

The festival will take place at the Cinépolis Coconut Grove and Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes. Festivities kick off on the first day with “A Day at the Movies With Your Dog,” featuring film screenings attended by dogs and humans alike. Other events scheduled throughout the weekend include a dog fashion show, dog yoga, silent auctions, a canine costume contest, an after-party at Miami Lakes' Hotel Indigo, and an awards ceremony.

Admission costs $10 to $1000, and 50 percent of ticket proceeds will benefit local animal rescues and shelters. For more information, visit the Canine Film Festival's website.

[h/t Miami New Times]


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