Saturday night, the elaborately costumed Knights of Sparta krewe, founded in 1951, paraded down St. Charles. The king’s fancy float is still drawn by mules and is preceded by the traditional flambeaux, people carrying torches to light the way. The tradition of handing the flambeaux pocket change is also still alive. The krewe officers also carry tradition, still riding horses in masks and stunning long capes.
The theme this year was “I Write the Songs” with floats depicting, among others, Elton John, the Beatles, Elvis, Cher, and Beach Boys. There were also live bands like St. Charles Streetcar Band and Just Doin’ It Band on flatbeds being pulled down the street and a number of terrific high school bands including Jesuit High School and Baker High School. There was even a pack of kilted bagpipers.
The highlight of the parade was the Get a Life Marching Band from Portland, Oregon. The neon-glow-stick-decorated band already had the crowd’s attention with their great music and fun illuminated approach to night parading but the crowd broke out into cheers as the band came close enough for us to see the whites of their… hair. The band is comprised of people who used to be in high school or college marching bands and has marched all over, even at the Presidential Inauguration Parade in 2009. Their 2010 motto is, “May the fork be with you” and they admit they’d “rather miss a note than a meal.” No wonder they came to our fair city and here’s hoping they return!