The Knights of Babylon are a traditional Carnival Krewe founded in 1939 as the “Jesters Club.” Most floats during Mardi Gras are designed and built by either Blaine Kern or the Jahncke family’s Royal Artists, but Babylon uses the same designs they have for over 70 years. In an era where people lease cars, the krewe still owns and houses their floats. There’s plenty of flambeaux (torch carriers) to light the way as they have since long before the invention of the street light and the King’s float is still drawn by a team of mules.
The krewe also carries on the tradition of secrecy. The theme is announced the day of the parade and the King remains a mystery. The Knights of Babylon has over 250 members, all male, and continues the traditional tableau at their annual ball to include the women.
This year’s theme was Babylonian Birthstones. I got the same cheap thrill seeing the Ruby float ride by as when you spot your name on a keychain rack in a truck stop.
Bands included the Riverside Ramblers, Just Doin’ It Band, Bone Tone Brass Band, Michael Hurtt and The Haunted Hearts Band and bagpipers. Schools included De La Salle, New Orleans College Prep, West St. John and Mount Carmel featuring the Carmelettes.
As we crept closer to Fat Tuesday, throws were getting better and more plentiful. Babylon was the first of 3 parades Thursday night and we all came with empty bags ready to fill them with beads, toys, hats and other fun trinkets.