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The Ghosts of New Orleans Mardi Gras

The Spirit of Mardi Gras rises to the occasion!

Haunted Parades, Floats and Mardi Gras Dens... The Spirit of New Orleans Carnival 2008 Season might just Haunt the living!

Krewe of Proteus, Mardi Gras

KREWE OF PROTEUS www. kreweofproteus.com

Story by Grady Mack, photos by permission of mardigrasparadeschedule.com

New Orleans 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 to witness.

There is 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 the day.

 

A Streetcar Ride and The Ghost of a Parade Floats!

A ghostly 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.

In New 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 nighttime balls.

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.

One Carnival historian has referred to the organization as the “Dessert of Carnival.”

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 "King."

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 the streetcar.

 

OFFICIAL PHUNNY PHORTY PHELLOWS WEBSITE
www.phunnyphortyphellows.com

OFFICIAL PHUNNY PHORTY PHELLOWS WEBSITE

Phunny Phorty Phellows ride a Unique Streetcar Route to Announce Start of the Carnival Season.

 

A Ghost of a Float

A resident 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."

Krewe of Proteus, Mardi Gras Parade

photos by permission of mardigrasparadeschedule.com

Carol 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!"

A Float Riders Ghost

A story 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 place.

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Mardi Gras
photo by mardigrasparadeschedule.com

As the 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.

Mardi Gras ghost? Real or just to many spirits from the celebrations? Visit new Orleans and find out for yourself!

To Learn More about New Orleans Mardi Gras or plan your visit please visit here:

PARADE DATES FOR 2009 MARDI GRAS NEW ORLEANS

www.mardigrasparadeschedule.com
VISIT HERE TO VIEW OUR PICTURES FOR 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 MARDI GRAS.

2008 New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade Schedule 2008

NEW ORLEANS MARDI GRAS 2009
Schedules, Routes and Pictures