Krewe of Orpheus
Founded in 1993, the Krewe of Orpheus takes its name from Zeus and Calliope’s musically inclined son. Founding members include musician/actor Harry Connick, Jr. and his father, Harry Connick, Sr., former New Orleans district attorney. With their first parade in 1994, the krewe of 700 members established itself as a super krewe. They were the first super Krewe to allow both male and female riders.
The Krewe of Orpheus derives its name from the mortal Orpheus, son of the god Apollo and the muse Calliope. The story of Orpheus illustrates the power of music in both this world and the next. Legend is that Apollo presented Orpheus with a lyre, which he played with perfection. The music of Orpheus was so beautiful that wild animals ceased their hunting, mountains bowed, seas stopped spraying and trees bent near to listen when he sang. His music was celebrated and cherished by all who heard it. His melodies inspired the noblest love. When Orpheus sang every heart was opened.
The krewe’s throws include a number of sought-after items, including light-up Orpheus medallion beads, three different types of doubloons, and four-foot-long stuffed dragons.
Notable floats include the Dolly Trolley, the horse-drawn bus that was used in the opening of Hello Dolly with Barbra Streisand. There’s also the Smoking Mary, a six-unit float that looks like a steam locomotive. And everyone loves the three-unit, 139-foot Orpheus Leviathan Float, the first Carnival float to use extensive fiber optic lighting.
Experience a side of Mardi Gras seldom seen by New Orleanians or visitors, by attending Orpheuscapade. This black tie event begins with live music and dancing until the magic moment when the gigantic floats arrive. As the entire parade rolls through the Convention Center, guests are showered with beads, doubloons, and other throws that fly fast and furious from the magnificent floats. Once the floats are inside, the music resumes, and dancing and merriment reign.
Over the years, Orpheus monarchs have included Fats Domino, Quentin Tarantino, Sandra Bullock, Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg, Stevie Wonder, Laurence Fishburne, Forrest Whitaker, Brad Paisley, Anne Rice and Toby Keith.
Unlike many Carnival events which are members-only, visitors are allowed to buy tickets to the black-tie Orpheuscapade, a musical extravaganza after the parade in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
(Information obtained from mardigrasneworleans.com and kreweoforpheus.com)