The Krewe of Thoth, founded in 1947, has a unique Uptown route designed to pass hospitals and other institutions people have trouble leaving for a parade. Originally, the 50 riders and 5 floats rolled past 14 care facilities. Today, their 1,200-plus riders and 40 floats still roll a unique route, passing New Orleans Adolescent Hospital and Children’s Hospital among other facilities. Named for the Egyptian God of wisdom and the creator of science, measurement and writing, Thoth was also known as a healer. If I were a sick child, an infirm elder, or any confined person between, I imagine it would heal me to see a parade.
The floats and costumes are Egyptian, even pharaonic. The theme this year was, “Thoth Goes to College” and included floats with different disciplines of study interspersed with floats of extracurricular activities like Pat O’Brien’s. The King was Frank Provenza and the Queen was Shelby Hoppmeyer. Like Morpheus, the krewe attends events throughout the year, creating their own community, a family.
Thoth was the last of the 3 day-parades to roll Carnival Sunday, as well as the most anticipated. People had set up tents and bar-b-que and the smoking grills and the setting sun gave the floats a heavenly glow at some times, a choking cloud at others.
The Urban Cowboys Riding Club was led by furry ponies the size of dogs and one horse was painted with fleur de lis in purple, green and gold. There were stilt walkers and the black and gold clad Gris Gris Strut dancers along with the Minor Mishap band. Other fabulous, funky groups included the very pink Pussyfooters, Roux La La – the “official swamp stepping, booty shaking, booze guzzling, pot stirring, glitter in your face dance troupe,” the 50’s style Muff-A-Lottas and the Irish Channel Corner Club.
There were also plenty of schools represented including Cabrini, Archbishop Shaw, Amity, Ursuline Academy with their Ursulettes and Lionettes, Tipitina’s Foundation recipients, Miller-McCoy, who keep proving they were a wise investment, Academy of Our Lady, Mt. Carmel and their Rhythm competative dance squad, Langston Hughes, West St. John and Pierre A. Capdau, whose first time parading in Mardi Gras was made possible in part by a large grant from Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation for instruments.
There are moments where my life in Los Angeles and my life here come together. I was a peripheral part of the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus and attended screenings and the premiere. We visited a school once to make a contribution and discuss the defunding of arts education in schools. I remember being sick to my stomach that schools have to fight to keep instruments and educators. I remember feeling good that the film’s composer, Michael Kamen, and star, Richard Dreyfuss, were so invested in the expression music gives, the lessons being part of a band bring a young person. But, I also remember thinking the non-profit would be as short-lived as a film’s run in a theatre, that people would move on and abandon the cause. I’m delighted to see that I was wrong, that even after Kamen’s passing in 2003, the foundation lives on and we are all the beneficiaries of their investment in Pierre A. Capdau.
We’d been parading since 11 am and had 2 more night parades ahead of us, so we checked our Mardi Gras Parade Tracker, accurate to the inch, and ran home to recharge cameras and eat before running back to St. Charles for Bacchus and Endymion.