Memories, memories, Mardi Gras memories! Young or old, everyone from around here have their own favorite memories of Carnivals past.
Many remember when not just the Krewe of Grela paraded into Gretna, but so did many other krewes. Some may have just started or ended their parade routes in our town, but many rolled down Gretna’s streets with pomp and circumstance. Those were the Krewes of Choctaw, Alla, Cleopatra, Poseidon, King Arthur, Aladdin, Ulysses, Octavia and the Magic Knights of Adonis.
The lone Gretna parade still rolling, but on hiatus for this year, is the Krewe of Kuties, for children, of course!
Since its conception in 2017, the Krewe of Kuties has grown from roughly 85 parade-riders in the Old Garden Park neighborhood to hundreds of participants along Gretna’s Huey P. Long Avenue. Kuties roll along the Avenue in decorated wagons, carts, strollers, buggies and small floats, in just about anything that rolls. It was this small idea in 2017 that transformed into Gretna’s beloved children’s parade, an adored social event by 2020.
Since 2017, this is and continues to be co-captain founders, Stacie Jaufre and Janelle Bernier’s vision, seeing Mardi Gras through a child’s eyes:
“Imagine your parents loading the perfectly designed float, wagon or bike that you helped create and loading up all your Mardi Gras trinkets, which, of course, you hand-selected to pass out to your patrons, all of which who came to see you. You arrive and unload to what could only be described as royalty for the day. Now imagine, your parents take out your beautiful chariot decorated in this season’s popular celebrations and you make your entrance in your costume adorned with your chosen accessories. We have arrived at the route, my route. And ready, set, go, you are off!”
Two years later, the Krewe of Kuties was able to name its 1st Grand Marshal, Avery Alfortish in 2019. And its 2nd Grand Marshal, Amelia Molina in 2020, both of which were escorted by their parents in a convertible to lead the parade.
The Krewe of Kuties exceeded all expectations, never did the founders imagine the event’s success and growth. The parade, designed by families for families, brings joy and excitement to Gretna and the surrounding communities.
“The kids’ and the parents’ faces tell us we must continue and roll again in 2022. Many have expressed how missed the parade will be this year. Floats that were ready must now be stored for another year and precious trinkets stowed may have to collect a little dust until we can parade again,” Stacie Jaufre said.
Sadly, also absent this Mardi Gras season are various celebrations among Gretna’s many clubs and organizations. Missing are the annual “Fasching” at the German-American Cultural Center and the Mardi Gras Party at Gretna Historical Society. Both of those events usually feature a lottery drawing to select a King and Queen. There are usually countless Mardi Gras school events, as well as the crownings of royalty at various nursing homes.
On hiatus is “Grela Celebrates Lundi Gras” under the Gretna Marketplace where a large crowd line dances, couple dances and even second lines to the sounds of Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. Locals will miss seeing Father Gary Copping from St. Joseph Church who says he “relishes the idea” of dressing as a hot dog to promote food sales that benefit the church restoration fund.
The annual Mayor’s “Ladies at the Mardi Gras” soiree at Timberlane Country Club where the ladies celebrate in a big way was cancelled and Ray Markase confirmed that there will be no Krewe d’ Pete this year.
When Grela stopped parading in Gretna, Krewe d’ Pete was formed. It is a wagon parade on Mardi Gras using Petey, the dog from “Our Gang” as a mascot. Each krewe member wears a white and black circle around one eye.
The lead wagon float carries Paul Cole’s 200 watts of surround stereo equipment that blasts Mardi Gras music from speakers mounted on “Pete.” There are periodic stops at various homes and landmarks to rest or enjoy libations like champagne mimosas, or for sustenance like gumbo and potato salad. There tends to be more libations than food, though in the parade that lasts about 12 hours. There is usually a stop at the amphitheater up on the river and a second line under the Marketplace, with a parade down Huey P. Long Avenue and a stop at the mayor’s house for a toast.
Alas, memories, not even Krewe d’ Pete this year! Heavens!
Meanwhile, to take care of our Carnival woes of missing parades, there are the Mardi Gras House Floats all over the greater New Orleans area to fill the void. Gretna peeps are never found lacking in spirit.
The City of Gretna invites you to enjoy the special “Parading Historic Gretna” that it is hosting on Sat., Feb. 13 from 6-8 p.m. to showcase the Old Gretna/McDonoghville houses that are participating in the New Orleans citywide Krewe of House Floats. The House Floats will remain decorated thru Mardi Gras.
It’s a drive-by pandemic safe event, yet a great way to enjoy the Carnival season. Enjoy the drive-by in the daytime or at night because some of the homes are beautifully lit.
House floats in the Old Gretna krewe, “Yaaasss, Kween” went on display on Feb. 1. An address list of the “Yaaasss, Kween” houses can be found on GretnaGlance.com or on Facebook at The Old Gretna House Floats or Gretna Glance.
You can pick up a copy of the list at various Huey P. Long Avenue businesses including Gattuso’s, Roule’ Rolled Ice Cream, Common Grounds, Amore Bakery, El Gato Negro, Huey P’s Pizzeria, Thanh Thanh Restaurant, Rivershack, Gretna Depot, Gold’N Creations Jewelers, Furry Tails Pet Shop and Fleurty Girl Gretna.
Melanie Dixon, co-captain of the krewe hopes that locals will participate in the Old Gretna Krewe of House Floats Food Drive. Donate food to the following Old Gretna drop off locations: Creative Framing at 516 Lafayette St., Thai D Jing at 93 5th St. or Gold’N Creations Jewelers at 404 Huey P. Long Ave.
Houses in other areas of Gretna are in the Westbank Krewe and can be found on the “Westbank” map at https://kreweofhousefloats.org.