Professor Carl Nivale, Your Professor Emeritus of all things Mardi Gras
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New Orleans Walking Clubs
Professor Carl Nivale marches with Comus, 1889Walking clubs in New Orleans go back to the beginnings of the celebrations on these shores (after all, what were the landings of Iberville and Bienville but marching krewes in search of a place to celebrate?)
It can be argued that all Mardi Gras parading organizations began life as marching clubs of one form or another.  Walking Clubs offer their own joys, providing a much more intimate and interactive Carnival atmosphere that is truer to the spirit and styles that our forbears so adored.
In recent years, Walking Clubs have undergone a surge of popularity that has earned them a faithful cadre of professional photographers and cinematographers.  So, when you attend the Society of St. Ann or the Jefferson City Buzzards, smile pretty;  Your face could end up in newspapers and magazines across the world!

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Jefferson City
Buzzards
Corner Carnival
Club

Lyons Carnival
Club

Half-Fast
Walking-Club

The Society of
St. Ann

Krewe of
Barkus

Mondo Kayo KOE Krewe of
Switzerland
Jefferson City Buzzards
Jefferson City Buzzards
The venerated grandfather of all the Walking Clubs formed in 1890, and features an all-male membership who regularly dress as women for their parade.  Generous with their throws and their informalities, watch for the Buzzards to pull one of their classic pranks:  lying on their backs in the street and quivvering their arms and legs in the air like dying cockroaches in front of traffic, yelling "whoooops!"
The Jefferson City Buzzards begin marching around 6:45am at Audubon Park and Laurel St. Uptown.  They head down Tchoupitoulas to Aragella, then to Magazine, to St. Charles Avenue down to Canal St., preceding Rex.  From there, they go to Rampart St. then U-turn to end up at Magazine and Poydras streets.
Look for the club's emblem doubloons, always a collectible item.
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The Corner Carnival Club
  -  Formed in 1918, this walking club begins at 7am on Mardi Gras morning on the corner of Second and Annunciation Streets uptown.  From there, the route is up to the fates, which take them on a crooked route through the neighborhood streets, winding up again at Second and Annunciation.
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Lyons Carnival Club
  -  Formed in 1946 by a group of Uptown New Orleaneans after World War II, this walking club makes around 10 different stops on their marathon march, which begins at 7am at Annunciation and Lyons streets, makes its way down Annunciation to Jefferson, to Magazine, to Napoleon and onto St. Charles and into the French Quarter to their final destination, Molly's on the Market on Rue Decatur.
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Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Walking Club
Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Walking Club
The self-proclaimed "Prince of Mardi Gras", musician Pete Fountain began his march through the Vieux Carré in 1961 as he does now, at Commander's Palace.  The march begins promptly at 7:45am and proceeds down St. Charles to Canal St., then into the Lower Vieux Carré to end up at the Hilton Riverside.  Celebrities frequently join Pete, who leads the parade, one of the favorites of the season.  Club medallion beads and doubloons are always a great catch.
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The Society of St. Ann
The Society of St. Ann
The Society, or the St. Ann Revelers as they are sometimes called, began marching in the late 1960's, though it is possible they began marching far earlier.  Named for the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the Society has gained a reputation for its amazing costumes (its members are culled from leaders and innovators in the performing and fine arts).  Long one of the best-kept secrets in local Mardi Gras, the St. Ann Revelers have earned an international following with photographers and afficianados.  The group is the subject of the documentary film "Cutting Loose".  Mardi Gras morning, the march begins around 8:30am at Bud Ripp's bar and proceeds up Royal Street through the Bywater, into the Faubourg Marigny and then into the Vieux Carr
é to Canal St. where the group salutes Rex, King of Carnival.  After Rex's passing, the Society makes its way to the Moonwalk on the Mississippi to perform a solemn ritual.  Any Society members who have passed away have their ashes carried through the streets once more, then scattered into the river in a ceremony called "cutting loose".  It is one of the most beautiful and meaningful moments in Mardi Gras.
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The Krewe of Barkus
The Krewe of Barkus
The oldest of the animal krewes (there is a Krewe of Endymeow and the Mystic Krewe of Mardi Paws in Mandeville), formed in 1993 by members of the Margaret Orr Fan Club and sponsored by Wood Enterprises.  Royalty matriculates through the ranks, taking at least two or three years to achieve the rights of regency.  They generally parade the first weekend of Carnival activities.  Their colourful parade of animals, owners, miniature floats, and innovative costumes makes this processional a highlight of the Vieux Carre's event schedule.  Definitely one parade to bring the camera!  The krewe also warns that cats, while welcome, will not be provided with security.
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Mondo Kayo
  -  Formed in 1983, this walking club is paradoxically loud and publicity-shy.  Based upon the love of Caribbean, South America, and Africa-based music styles, the group indulges in what they call "Third World cool", blasting their music at top-levels for all the city to enjoy.  They consider New Orleans to be the northernmost Banana Republic.  Their procession begins around 7:45am at Third and Magazine streets, going to St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street, crossing Rampart Steet and proceeding through the French Quarter into the Marigny, disbanding at Caf
é Brazil.
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The Krewe of Elvis
KOE

Founded in 1998, this krewe led the way into the new millenium by being the first 'cyberkrewe', formed entirely on the Internet and comprised of 100 members from around the globe.  Membership is open to everyone.
The group traditionally meets at the Mississippi River Bottom Bar at 515 Rue St. Philip in the Vieux Carré on Lundi Gras at 1pm to organize their march.  Then at 10:15am on Mardi Gras, they take to the streets.  Named for and themed after an iconoclastic one-named 20th century entertainer, they present a great parade for photographers of all kinds.  Look for wooden doubloons and the extremely collectible medallion beads, a rarity for walking krewes!
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Krewe of Switzerland
Krewe of Switzerland

A small but devoted group of revelers who founded their walking krewe on Valentine's Day 1999 (also known as the Krewe of Hearts), the Swiss have some unusual traditions that have already become well-known in Mardi Gras circles, including their medallion beads and the Swiss Vampire buttons.  The Krewe of Switzerland's royalty are the Earl and Earlette.  They can be found throughout the French Quarter, beginning by joining in with the Krewe of Elvis on Lundi Gras.  And good news...they like to throw Swiss chocolates!  (no word on when they will start throwing clocks!)
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