Mardi Gras and
the Traditions of the Krewe of Highland
by Captain Levette Fuller, 2012 – 2013
The Tradition of Mardi Gras
A Mardi Gras Krewe organizes a parade and typically a bal around the calendar season of Mardi Gras, Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras day (40 days prior to the calendar day of Easter). They elect representatives of the Krewe who act as ambassadors for the Krewe and its traditions. The representatives of most Krewes are King, Queen and Captain. Some Krewes have a complete Royal Court with Dukes and Duchesses, and Princes and Princesses as well.
Being royalty means you must dedicate some of your Carnival season to visiting schools, civic groups, and nursing homes to offer good cheer and perpetuate the culture and traditions of your Krewe.
In New Orleans there was a time when only men were Krewe members and the membership would be inherited in some cases. Now you can join any Krewe you like if you pay dues and comply with whatever rules are set up by the Krewe. For the most part Krewes in Shreveport are inclusive groups. Some Krewes have specific missions — for instance Justinian is a law careers Krewe consisting of mostly lawyers and their spouses or anyone working in the legal field. Aescelpius is a local medical career Krewe. Barkus and Meoux is all about animals and animal rescue.
Highland is about the diverse cultures of our historic Highland neighborhood. You don’t have to live in Highland to join, but you most likely value a historic neighborhood with diverse cultures and quirky artistic residency.
Shreveport Mardi Gras
Shreveport adopted Mardi Gras, which traditionally was thought of as a south Louisiana tradition, and it has become a tourist destination for hundreds of thousands of regional visitors. While Mardi Gras is a French celebration of the Carnival (pre-Lenten season), the Krewe culture was started, ironically enough, by an elite group of new residents to New Orleans that were originally from Mobile, Alabama! With that said, I feel that it’s great that the Carnival is observed in Shreveport because it brings communities together and brings tourists to our area that may be looking for something slightly more low key that what you find in New Orleans.
Captain Levette Fuller lives on the route taken by the Highland Parade, and states: “Mardi Gras and the Highland Parade celebrate my neighborhood. I love the sense of revelry and high spirit on parade day. I love seeing the neighborhood kids having so much fun in their front yards. Also, I love that parents don’t have to worry about the crowds and mayhem of some areas of the nighttime parades. Our entire route is kid and family friendly.”
Mardi Gras Throws
Everyone likes to have throws with a little personality. In fact, I think there may be some competition for originality within our Krewe. Sure we throw beads, cups, and frisbees, but Highland’s signature throw is the hot dog that comes from the sub-Krewe “the Krewe of barbecue.” Early on in the Krewe’s inception this Krewe started as a rogue group that cut into the parade route when it reached their Krewe lieutenant’s home. They grill hot dogs on their float, wrap them in foil, and throw them to the crowd. When parade organizers found out about the rogue group, rather than disciplinary measures, they invited Jeff Clark (the float lieutenant) to join the Krewe and be the King!
We also have thrown spam sandwiches, ziploc bags of spaghetti and meatballs (made by a gourmet chef), tacos, moon pies, candies, and stuffed animals. Our die-hard members start saving throws in June prior to Carnival season.
Two years ago our queen was Queen Poulet (Renee Chevalier), and she threw marshmallow peeps and packages of chicken flavored Ramen noodles. I think the only motivation for the throws is audience amusement. Now there is the sense of curiosity on the route: what will they think to throw this year?