First you make a Krewe:
A krewe is any group or organization of revelers to band together to host a Mardi Gras ball, ride on a Mardi Gras parade float and participate in social events throughout the year.
In Southwest Louisiana, there are more than 50 krewes, a number that continues to grow each season. Each krewe is a part of a larger organization called Krewe of Krewes that formed in 1979 when the area's krewes joined together to create a parade for the community enjoyment. Now the culmination of Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras festivities, the Krewe of Krewes Parade was first held in 1980.
Just as one pot of gumbo varies from the next, krewes are formed for many different reasons and one can gain acceptance to a krewe in many different ways. Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras krewes offer a fun way for all families to get involved in the Carnival season. Read on for more information on area krewes and perhaps find a way to get involved in one yourself!
And the magic began:
Krewe of Cosmos-Calcasieu Parish's First Merrymakers
The Krewe of Cosmos was formed in 1951 by Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Woods and Etie Lopez to provide entertainment and merriment for the public as well as its members. The krewe was originally sponsored by the "Fifty's Club" and all of its members were Fourth Degree Members of the Knights of Columbus.
Today there are 220 members in the Krewe of Cosmos and a waiting list to join. To be considered for membership, you must live west of the west fork of the Calcasieu River and be recommended by a current member.
The krewe stays active throughout the year by visiting nursing homes and hosting several membership events throughout the year such as its annual membership party, crawfish ball, farewell to court party, a krewe barbeque and the Krewe of Cosmos Walkers. During the Mardi Gras season, Cosmos participates in Twelfth Night, hosts a presentation and ball that is open to the public, the children's parade, the Royal Gala and the Krewe of Krewe's Parade.
Krewe of Contraband
The Krewe of Contraband got its start at Russell Tritico's 1963 Oak Park housewarming celebration. Local businessman Sammy Navarra mentioned his desire to form a krewe and Ernest C. "Chuck" Schindler handed him a check stating that he was the first member. Navarra sent out 150 letters to local business asking them to join the krewe and he received 103 acceptances. The primary purpose of the Krewe of Contraband is to honor the women, daughters and sometimes granddaughters of its members. Any descendant who has reached her 18th birthday and is unmarried is eligible to be chosen to serve on the Royal Court.
Krewe of Omega
The Krewe of Omega was formed in 1970 by Joseph Moffett Jr. and its purpose is to provide social activities for the young and elderly. The krewe also gives service awards to those who participate in the improvement of the community and its people. Krewe of Omega was formed to bring Mardi Gras activities to the black community. To this day, it is the only Southwest Louisiana krewe to hold its own parade. The parade is held each year on the Saturday prior to Mardi Gras.
There are currently 46 members in Krewe of Omega and the membership consists of willing members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Rho Chi Chapter of Lake Charles and their spouses.
Activities held throughout the year include and June picnic for members and a Christmas ball that includes a toy drive for local children. During Mardi Gras the Krewe of Omega Parade rolls through downtown Lake Charles and the krewe's annual Queen's Pageant is held.
Krewe of Mystique
A trip to a Lafayette Mardi Gras ball led to the formation of this lady's krewe. In 1973, the Krewe of Mystique held its first pageant. The founders of the krewe were Mrs. Louis (Shirley) Bonin, Mrs. Howard (Jennabeth) Smythe and Mrs. William (Monnie) Boyer. Each year a local gentleman who has contributed a great deal to the welfare of the community is chosen to serve as king.
Krewe des Amis
In 1979, six couples gathered to form a new krewe. Translated, Krewe des Amis means "group of friends" and this phrase expresses the real idea behind the krewe, to celebrate the Carnival Season together. Today this krewe, formed by Ken and Becky Istre, Andress and Sheryl Abshire, A.J. and Barbara Abshire, Bert and Lottie Bollotte, Alvin and Marsha Topham and Pat and Nacy Keating, is one of the area's largest krewes. Membership to Krewe des Amis is by invitation only.
Krewe of Barataria
In 1979, Stephanie and Bill Bacque, Hulda Bradley Mahlum, Debbie and David Roberts, Alexis and David Trahan and Mike Veron teamed up to form the Krewe of Barataria. The group wanted to organize a krewe that celebrated Mardi Gras and Carnival Season but not quite as formally as the other krewes. Instead of the elaborate costumes, members of this krewe design or buy their own costumes to wear to their annual ball that is held each year on the fourth Saturday before Mardi Gras.
The Krewe of Barataria prides itself on its sense of humor. The name Barataria pays homage to the spirit of Jean LaFitte's celebration of revelry by commemorating his robust way of life and the celebration we call Mardi Gras.
Krewe de la Famille
In 1979, Dr. and Mrs. Lee J. Monlezun (Anne) brought together several friends and formed this krewe whose name means "of the family." Krewe de la Famille's purpose is to promote couple and family participation in Mardi Gras festivities. Each year the royal court is selected by secret ballots which are pulled from a hat. The court is kept secret until the night of the ball.
Several family events are held throughout the year and the debutante daughters are honored at an annual pageant. This krewe is also known for its well planned skits and krewe tap dancers that are presented during the ball each year. The traditional krewe favor is a porcelain mask representing the theme of the ball.
Krewe du Grande Bois
Krewe du Grande Bois was formed in 1980 by Berk and Pat Fontenot. The membership of this krewe "of the big woods" is composed mostly of residents of Moss Bluff. The more than 90 couples kick off the Carnival Season with a King's Cake party that is hosted by the reigning king and queen, a tradition since the krewe's inception.
Other events held throughout the year include a steak dinner in the spring, a family barbeque in the summer and several house parties throughout the year to keep friendships intact.
Krewe du Lac
Krewe du Lac was formed late in 1983 when a few friends, including John and Leigh Ann Thibodeaux, Mark and Clara Prejean, Jamie and Charmayne Yelverton and Tony and Donna Sanders came together. Today, Krewe du Lac or "of the lake" is one of the largest in the area with more than 350 married and single members.
The krewe's ball is held the second Saturday before Mardi Gras and the membership is required to dress in full costume while the court wears formal attire. Known and the party animals for many years, Krewe du Lac is proud to live up to its name. Other events held throughout the year include a Family Fall Fest, an annual bus trip and a cocktail party.
Krewe du Feteurs
Krewe du Feteurs or "merrymakers" was formed by a group of friends in 1984 who wanted to get together and have a good time. This krewe celebrates year round with a crawfish boil in the spring, a family picnic in the fall, a Christmas party, gumbo celebrations and King's Cake parties.
Krewe de la Noblesse
Krewe de la Noblesse (nobility) was formed in 1985 as a social krewe to celebrate Mardi Gras in the traditional New Orleans style. Its membership is limited to 200 and to become a member, you must be invited by a current krewe member.
The royal court is selected each year by the luck of the draw. Events held each year include a summer social, a ladies' social that is open to the public, a fall social and an annual ball. Each year on the Friday before Mardi Gras, court members visit schools and nursing homes in their costumes. They will also parade in costume throughout the year at the request of any organization.
Krewe Chetu Jadi
Krewe Chetu Jadi was formed in 1987, primarily by Craig Guillory. Chetu Jadi is Swahili for "of our ancestors." The krewe was formed to encourage an interest form young African Americans to take part in the Mardi Gras celebration. Over the years this krewe has remained enthusiastic about their part in the Mardi Gras celebration. Krewe de Classique
In 1987, Bernard R, Beaco and Alexander L. Johnson decided to form a krewe that would encourage more Black participation in the Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras activities. The name which signifies a krewe with class was chosen to represent the attitudes of the original members. Membership is limited to 64 and is composed of a wide cross section of individuals and couples from the area. There are also some members from as far away as Houston and Baton Rouge!
The krewe meets monthly throughout the year and also hosts a summer family picnic, an annual theme social and many other events. The krewe also visits nursing homes and schools in costumes as a public service and teaches children about important Mardi Gras parade safety rules and etiquette.
Krewe of Komova
In 1987 Krewe of Komova was formed when a party was hosted at a local home and invited guests were asked to "come over" and join the krewe! The group hosts a costumed ball each year and was formally introduced to the public in 1992 at Twelfth Night. Organizers say that this is a krewe "where good times and good people can always be found."
Krewe des Lunatiques
In 1988, a group of friends decided to form a Mardi Gras krewe, but couldn't come up with a good, fitting French name for them and their activities. They contacted a French professor at McNeese State University who gave them the French spelling of Lunatiques or fools, crazy and lunatics. It is only fitting at today; this krewe is often referred to as the crazy krewe!
Krewe Deja vu du Monde
Krewe Deja vu du Monde was chartered in 1989. Literally translated, the name means "things past of the people or world' and loosely translated becomes "one more time for the people." The membership is comprised of both single and married couples with no regards to geographical boundaries. The krewe and their close camaraderie with each other are promoted through various events throughout the year.
Krewe of Illusions
This krewe, that formed in 1989, is most known for its theatrical extravaganza and elaborate costumes at its annual ball that is open to the public. The flashy costumes and memorable performances were the brainchild of the krewe's late Ball Captain, David O'Quain. O'Quain designed his costumes from original sketches.
Today, the Krewe of Illusions brings their ideas to life by the creative ability and innovative techniques of its talented members.
Krewe de la Contree
Krewe de la Contree was formed in 1990, by ladies who were members of the Country Club auxiliary. The krewe promotes unity and friendship through a variety of activities. They follow old New Orleans traditions including presentation of debutantes and the royal court at the annual ball. Their goal is to have a laid back krewe with nothing to do buy enjoy their time together.
Krewe C'est la Vie Mes Amis
Established in 1995, Krewe C'est la Vie Mes Amis or "That's my life my friends" is made up on a diverse group of singles and couples ranging in age from 21 to 65. The members come from every geographical direction and social background and are united together in keeping of the authentic Mardi Gras celebrations.
Krewe du Bon Coeur
In 1996, Troy Portie, Amy Grimes and Paul Schuldes formed Krewe du Bon Coeur or Krewe of the Good Hearts. The krewe is a social krewe that was formed to encourage a healthy regard for Carnival in the community while providing wholesome entertainment for the membership. Bon Coeur has 100 members made up of married couples and single folks and to become a join, you must contact a current member. The court is chosen each year through a random drawing.
Aside from participating in annual Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras events, the krewe also has a summer social and Christmas party each year.
Krewe de Charlie Sioux
This krewe was chartered in 1996 by a small group of business men from Lake Charles, Louisiana and its sister city Sioux City, Iowa. Each year a delegation from Sioux City travels to Lake Charles to join in the Mardi Gras festivities. A delegation from Lake Charles in turn travels to Sioux City each year for its July 4th Saturday in the Park Festival.
The sharing of cultures between the two cities has led to the formation of many new friendships. The krewe's ball celebrates Mardi Gras with the sights and sounds of Southwest Louisiana but with a Sioux City twist!
Krewe des Gens Contents
The Krewe of the Happy People was chartered in 1997 and is made up of people from the community. Their goal is to not only enjoy the fellowship of each other, but also to specialize in putting on great celebrations that are remembered for a lifetime.
Krewe des Magnifiques
The Krewe of the Magnificent was formed in 1998 and is comprised of members who want to be involved with Mardi Gras but due to work and other activities, cannot be as involved as they'd like. The krewe stresses the importance of quality over quantity and equality over anything else. All members find a way to be involved whether its planning events or decorating the float.
Krewe du le Originales et les Enfants
The Krewe of the Originals and their Kids was formed in 1998 to preserve the old time Mardi Gras traditions. J.C. Spell and Abbie Gaspard were the founders of this krewe that now boasts 86 members who are allowed to join by invitation only.
The krewe is based on the peasants of olden times that would beg for food at the end of winter so the krewe does performances throughout the year to highlight this part of Southwest Louisiana history. There is no ball or court for this krewe, but they have several events throughout the year such as a Mardi Gras run in the country, krewe fun day and a family day of food and fun to name a few. They also perform at several of the other krewe balls in the area as well as local schools.
Krewe de L'Ecore
Krewe de l'Ecore was founded in 1998 by Marty & Vicki Broussard and a group of friends to celebrate Mardi Gras and provide other social functions for its members throughout the year. The krewe is a couples krewe with 91 couples and a waiting list to join in the revelry. Their annual ball is a themed event and is strictly formal. Social events like a crawfish boil, saltwater fishing tournament, bingo, dance and gumbo cook-off are held each year.
Krewe of Athena
The Krewe of Athena is a womenÕs krewe that was chartered in 2002 and has a full membership of 130, with a substantial waiting list of prospective members. We were formed just for Òfun and fellowshipÓ. The Captain of the Ball, Queen and Duchesses are chosen by the Ôluck of the drawÕ each year and then notified by a surprise party bus limo ride around Calcasieu Parish. The costumed Mardi Gras Ball follows a designated theme for that year and everyone dresses accordingly. The Krewe was founded on traditional Greek and Roman Mythology. Athena was the Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare, Hera was Queen of the Gods, the Three Graces in Greek Mythology were Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia; which are the names of our Royalty. The krewe also presents Princesses and Gents at our Ball. Athena is a member of the Krewe of Krewes, participates in the 12th Night Revelry and Royal Gala, and rides in the Fat Tuesday and ChildrenÕs Parades. Our annual activities include our Membership Party, Flamingo Bingo and Mardi Gras Ball.
Krewe of Morpheus
In 2002, this social krewe was formed to allow members to celebrate Mardi Gras in an economical krewe with "fun and no politics." The founders of this krewe that celebrates the Greek God of dreams were Angela Propst and Phyllis LeBleu. There are 24 members in the Krewe of Morpheus.
The krewe holds annual socials and costume and float workdays. Their ball is currently held every other year, but will soon switch to an every year format.
Krewe de L'Amitie
In 2002, Captains Tim and Michelle Fontenot formed this krewe whose name stands for friendship and the events that the krewe's 160 members participate in all center around this focus. They have a formal ball on the even years and a costume ball on odd years.
Krewe de Autre Chance
The Krewe of Another Chance is a social krewe that was founded in 2003 by Darlene Gotreaux and Martha Comeaux. The purpose of the 40 member krewe is to let everyone know what a fun and enjoyable krewe they are.
Aside from participating in Mardi Gras events and their ball, the krewe members also have a family gathering in the fall, a membership drive for old and new members, fundraisers twice a year and a Christmas party.
Krewe des Bon Amis
The Krewe of the Good Friends is a group of 60 who formed in 2005 to promote public service through charity work and for good friends to have a good time. Jimmy and Jackie Bastow along with Charles and Leslie Cubbage and Christine Stevens are the founders of Bon Amis.
The group hosts a Mardi Gras ball each year along with a spring bingo, new member party and a Halloween party.
Krewe of Chaos
The Krewe of Chaos formed in 2005 as a social organization whose aim was to bring family and friends together to celebrate merriment and fellowship year-round. The krewe holds a membership of around 180 members ranging in ages of 21 to 45. Most members are young business professionals from the Sulphur area but some members are also residents of the areas surrounding Lake Charles.
In addition to participating in the local Mardi Gras activities, the krewe hosts a ball each year as well as a summer social and a Halloween Bash.
Krewe des Couillon Cadien
The Krewe of the Crazy Cajuns was formed in 2008 by James Gary and Kathie Snider to promote social activities, celebrate Mardi Gras and to give back to the community.
The group of 80 holds King's Cake parties during Mardi Gras, barbeque cook-offs and many social activities. They also participate in area fundraising walks, bowling events and Coats for Kids and much more.