The Choctaw Parade
January 26, 2008
The 2008 parade season has begun in New Orleans and has not disappointed. For my first parade this year I traveled over the river, through the West Bank to Terrytown. My friends were a maid and an assistant to the maid in the Choctaw parade, so I gathered some friends and went the distance. The Choctaw social club was formed in 1935 to “promote good fellowship, contribute to civic good, encourage charity and keep alive the great spirit of Mardi Gras.” The krewe began parading in 1939 using old mail wagons as the framework for their floats. This year’s theme was “Choctaw’s Worldly Travels.” Each float represented a different destination in this truly global experience. Each maid was dressed to match the float’s destination. The theme of Native American culture permeated each float, many floats held “Indian braves” and head-dressed bead throwers.
Choctaw was a family friendly parade; too bad the weather was overcast and wet! Many of the throws include plush and plastic toys as well as a variety of beads. However, the throws were so numerous that it did not matter if one happened to fall in the mud — many more were coming at you. This parade did not have many of its own personalized beads; rather many were recycled from other, older parades. Knowing someone definitely helps because I was able to get the parade’s special beads! They include a huge Choctaw resin-casted emblem and strings of mini-beads. The marching bands were all new to me. I had a great time with the dancers, flag teams, and bands, each coordinated together, marching for miles. Though a great honor to be asked to march, these kids were impressive performers. There were many dancing in the streets and clapping along. By the time the last float ran and the police cars rolled past my group had gathered a gigantic bagful of beads, toys and plush. Luckily we got thrown a super large bag and stuffed it full of plastic goodies. My Carnival season just began on the West Bank and will carry me back to the East Bank for the next few weeks. I will never forget my first West Bank parade and am glad to get to share the experience of Mardi Gras with all of you!