Hail Barkus!

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Did you Know…
The King ascends through the ranks, usually after being a duke or grand marshall.

The Queen is selected by secret ballot and announced only weeks before the parade, and is always a rescued/adopted female dog.

Founded in 1993, the Mystic Krewe of Barkus is a non-profit organization. The Mystic Krewe of Barkus was envisioned and created in November 1992 at a meeting of the Margaret Orr (WDSU-TV Weather Anchor) Fan Club held at Good Friends Bar. Thomas Wood brought his dog Jo Jo McWood to the meeting, where people complained about her neurotic ways. To get back at them all, Wood decided to make Jo Jo McWood queen of her parade and captain-for-life. Thus, the Krewe of Barkus was born.

The first Krewe meeting was held January 25, 1993, when the Krewe (after many beers) officially elected Jo Jo McWood Queen Barkus I. Jager Freeman, dog of Scott Freeman, was selected as King Barkus I. The chosen theme was “Welcome To The Flea Market.”

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Well it’s our weekend to be the hosts!
This Sunday, we gather in the Quarter for one of the top parades among local parade goers, Barkus. This dog parade is up there with Muses, Zulu and our new favorite, ‘tit Rəx. Barkus’ theme this year is “Mission Impossible- Canine Protocol, Armstrong Bark Reloaded” so look for a lot of Tom Cruise inspired black climbing outfits and cool sunglasses hanging off ears…
This is year 20 for the organization, and this parade grows more fun every year. And all done on behalf of animal protection causes. And for those who ask me where it is in the Quarter, don’t worry-you’ll find it on your own!
Barkus site
Right after you have your friends stake out your spot for the parade, head up to Frenchman for the best costume market of the year. This from its organizer, the Godmother of Flea Markets, Cree McCree:

I’m delighted to announce that Threadhead Records Foundation is the nonprofit sponsor for this year’s Carnival costume bazaar at the Blue Nile. THR’s generous support continues a Frenchmen Street tradition dating back to the first Carnival Creations Bazaar at Cafe Brasil in 1991. Cofounders Tracy Thomson and Oliver Manhattan are among the artists and designers displaying their wares at this fabulous city-sanctioned event, which rises from the ashes of the Great Blue Nile Costume Bust of Mardi Gras 2011.

Threadhead Records Foundation Presents:
21st Annual Carnival Costume Bazaar
Barkus Sunday * February 12 * 12 Noon – 5 PM
Blue Nile * 532 Frenchmen St.
504-948-2583 * Free & open to the public

A dozen of New Orleans’ most creative designers, hatters, costumiers and mask-makers offer a vast array of one-of-a-kind costumes, masks, accessories, props & festive Carnival creations.

Featuring: Oliver Manhattan, Tracy Thomson/Kabuki, Mo Lappin/Howlpop, Jonathan Woods/Calamity, Cree McCree/Cree-ations, Jessica Radcliffe/High Bohemia, The Hat Man/Charles Barkley, Christeen Wright/Avante Garb, Joy Patterson, Darlene Hargreaves, Kate McNee, Natalie Pierce and Veronica Russell.

A don’t-miss event for people who take Carnival seriously!

What a weekend to be on foot and in the sliver!

Barkus is a game changer

Before my time, parades used to roll through the French Quarter. Well, really before my time they used to roll through lots of neighborhoods…
Now, one has to mosey to the Uptown side of things or at least stand on the dividing line to participate in float parades, except for Endymion (held downtown of Canal-for a few blocks anyway). However, I stay far from that Mid City mess held on the last Saturday before Fat Tuesday. To explain my p.o.v., just know that some groups start to camp out on the Thursday before Endymion and that it seems to celebrate white middle class New Orleans more than any other parade in the city. And even though I am in that number, I know we have no proud history of adding much to Mardi Gras, music or food around here. So, when we throw a parade, you can expect it to be loud, big and lacking some finesse. So good luck to those brave enough to make it. Me, I wish ol Endymion would find that long sleep again.
My schedule is usually seeing 1-3 parades and 1 of them is one of the 2 walking parades in the French Quarter. Barkus is almost always the choice.
What I like about it:
1. It benefits a worthy cause-pet rescue and allows any brave dog owners to participate.
2. It is the right scale. Those folks have to stay sober enough to walk miles with their dogs but drunk enough to wear feathers or shirts that match them.
3. It has a sense of humor. South Pawcific?
4. It’s over before dinner time.
I have been watching it recently from a friend’s place on Saint Ann to watch the crowds. Some of us sit on the balcony, some of us draw up chairs on the ground, chatting with anyone near enough to be caught. What I have noticed is that much like French Quarter Festival, it seems to be bringing in locals who spend the day roaming the Quarter and reacquainting themselves with it. I see groups of people chatting for hours, sitting with a beer and their chair set up in the sun. Children are very plentiful and the Barkus participants keep an eye out for them to bestow their trinkets first.

Many parades are somewhat hierarchical: we sit waiting for the masked riders to roll by hoping to catch their eye or their ear. As glorious as they can be, they can also be passive and maybe even a little cruel. I find the walking parades much more interactive and personal.
Really, it is one of the reasons why the Quarter remains useful: in a small way, like Tahrir Square, we use it to perambulate and to connect and if we need to, to protest. Lucky for us, a change in government is possible here with peaceful transitions.
I contend that the reason we came through our most recent federal disaster with so little strife among the citizenry was that we have this release every year we call Carnival season. It forces us to meet new people, and allows us to have the time to catch up with old friends in detail. We laugh at bad puns together, cheer a good throw or catch and generally get the anxiety and angst out.
And when we can do it in the middle of the old city with our best companions, what can be better?