Parades, Floats and Mardi Gras Dens...
The Spirit of New Orleans Carnival 2008
Season might just Haunt the living!
OF PROTEUS www.
by Grady Mack, photos by permission of
Mardi Gras is well steeped in years of
grand traditions, from Mardi Gras Balls
to elaborate floats and and costumes of
the selected royalty. Yet" the Most
Haunted City in America" also has
a few very haunted secrets that few outsiders
have come to know. And may dare not wish
a certain Parade Mardi Gras Den (A large
warehouse in the Uptown area of New Orleans)
This most " Haunted" place is
where Mardi Gras Artist often speak of
in very hush tones. The building at one
time was a local police station and jail
where several people died. Gina Lanier
HauntedAmericatours.coms in house ghost
hunter has ventured into the haunted location
more then once and states that this is
Mardi Gras' most haunted hotspot. Located
near the great Mississippi river, many
have spoken of the sights sounds and the
paranormal occurrences that happen their
each year. Some artist have entered the
hotspot and quit the very day they began.
Lanier who has documented and investigated
this haunted parade says she first witnessed
a haunting their in the late 1980's and
that all of the phenomena occurs in the
light of day. " At night the place
is free of spirits she says. So it seems
this special haunting is only active during
Streetcar Ride and The Ghost of a Parade
parade has been said to hold a midnight
procession down St Charles Avenue over
the years a few residents and observers
often tell of a spectral parade that occurs
in the month of January on or around 12th
night (January 6th). Twelfth Night is
a holiday in some branches of Christianity
marking the coming of the Epiphany, concluding
the Twelve Days of Christmas, and is defined
by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the
evening of the fifth of January, preceding
Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany,
formerly the last day of the Christmas
festivities and observed as a time of
merrymaking" The celebration of Epiphany,
the adoration of the Magi, is marked in
some cultures by the exchange of gifts,
and Twelfth Night, as the eve or vigil
of Epiphany, takes on a similar significance
to Christmas Eve.
In some traditions it
is taken to mean the evening of the Twelfth
Day itself, the sixth of January. This
apparent difference has arisen probably
because in modern times people are less
aware of the old custom of treating sunset
as the beginning of the following day,
and perceive Twelfth Night to mean the
night of the Twelfth Day.
Orleans this is the first night and official
kick off to Mardi Gras. As the Phunny
Phorty Phellows takes to the streets to
herald in the season.
It is March
5th, 1878, a rather late Mardi Gras Day.
Though Carnival has been celebrated for
quite a long time, organized parades are
still a novelty. Comus has been active
for twenty years, but Rex is a mere six
years old. Mardi Gras revelry consists
primarily of daytime street masking and
Rex's parade of modern
gods in 1878 was a comic display. Past
parades had been followed, despite his
objections, by maskers on foot. But, this
year what's that we see coming behind
Rex? Instead of a ragtag group of motley,
miscellaneous maskers, it's another parade!
For the first time a new group follows
Rex with their agreement. It is the first
parade of the Krewe of Phunny Phorty Phellows,
spelled with "ph"es, not "f"s.
The first appearance
of the PPP was a surprise to the public,
and though modest in comparison with future
displays, it created a sensation. Fantastic
themes depicted by bizarre floats and
grotesque maskers thrilled the public
after the more pretentious parade headed
by the King of Carnival and a live Boeuf
Gras corralled on a rolling platform.
The Phunny Phorty Phellows
first appeared on Fat Tuesday, 1878, when
they began the tradition of following
the Rex parade. Since that time, the Phunny
Phorty Phellows have made distinguished
themselves as one of the liveliest additions
to Mardi Gras with their hijinks and well-meaning
mockery of the day’s events (one
1881 float depicted Rex’s traditional
symbol, the Boeuf Gras, as a heifer).
The original Phunny Phorty ceased parading
and ultimately disbanded in 1885.
For eight years the
Phunny Phorty Phellows were the "dessert"
of carnival, fostered by leading businessmen
of the city. They created an element of
fun which made the passing of stupendous
Rex seem little more than a necessary
evil to be born with patience until the
"Big 40" arrived. Satire and
plain fun for the sake of fun were so
well mixed that the parade was a source
of unalloyed enjoyment for young and old.
Their mottoes were:
"Honi soit qui
mal y pense," or "Evil to them
that think evil" · "A
little nonsense now and then is relished
by the best of men."
Its symbol was an owl.
Among their innovations was the use of
the term "Boss" rather than
The PPP continued to
parade following Rex and held balls from
1880 until 1885 at the Odd Fellows Hall
and the St. Charles Theater. Alas, 1885
was the beginning of the end for the PPP.
That year there was only a foot parade
of maskers, and during the years 1886-1895
there were no presentations.
The fanciful Phellows
resumed their outlandish pageants in 1896
following Rex as in previous years. A
tableau ball with a queen and maids ruled
with the Boss at the French Opera House
in 1896. The Friday before Mardi Gras
in 1898 was the last nineteenth-century
appearance of the Phunny Phorty Phellows
at a night parade.
The modern organization
was revived in 1981 by a small group of
friends and Mardi Gras enthusiasts. It
has continued without interruption to
the present day. The PPP paraded with
the Krewe of Clones from 1981 until 1986.
In 1982 we also began a tradition of riding
the streetcar line (in a streetcar) and
proclaiming the arrival of the Carnival
season on Twelfth Night. That is the night
when the new Boss and Queen are chosen
by the traditional King Cake method as
well as the occasion of the sumptuous
Coronation Ball. A “Carnival Countdown”
take place right before the Phellows board
PHUNNY PHORTY PHELLOWS WEBSITE
Phorty Phellows ride a Unique Streetcar
Route to Announce Start of the Carnival
Ghost of a Float
who lives on St. Charles upper Garden
District area Jacob Stein relates a tale
that in 2005 he was standing near the
Street car line as the Phunny Phorty Phellows
Street car passed to his and his friends
delight. As the parade finished we all
began to leave the neutral ground, (a
large Median) only to witness a spectral
parade float pass before them. "
We could see right thru the massive beautifully
decorated mardi Gras Float Stein says.
" It was very well decorated and
looked like no float I have ever seen
in any parade in modern New Orleans times."
" It shook and moved like an old
rickety wagon was underneath it!"
The Ghost Float apparition just vanished
before our eyes as we stood their stunned."
by permission of mardigrasparadeschedule.com
Seymour, a long time Uptown resident and
now a Hurricane Katrina, Texas transplant
relates that on January 6th in 1997 she
and her husband witnessed a ghostly parade
at or around midnight. The floats were
truly glorious she says as they passed
us by. " The Ghost riders just stood
there frozen like mannequins but I knew
they were ghost!" " 3- 4 Ghost
Floats passed us by then it was over."
This Parade of spirits was the most strangest
and beautiful parades I had ever seen!"
Says Seymour. " But it was not of
this world!" As far as I know no
ones ever sees a Mardi Gras Float until
the first parade of the season and these
floats as far as I could tell were definitely
from beyond the grave!"
Float Riders Ghost
told to many years ago was from a rider
In a Parade. The Rider M. Ebbs a member
of the Krewe of Zulu related to me that
a friend of his had who was supposed to
ride in a parade with him had passed away
two days before the actual parade took
Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Mardi Gras
photo by mardigrasparadeschedule.com
Parade began to roll I looked over and
there he was standing next to me big as
life throwing beads! The ghost of his
dead friend he told me. And he relates
that that ghostly encounter has shook
him to this day.
ghost? Real or just to many spirits from
the celebrations? Visit new Orleans and
find out for yourself!
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