The story of the KOE commenced in 1998 when a couple of netheads came up with the idea of forming Mardi Gras' first "cyber Krewe". They already knew a core of people who were big fans of the city of New Orleans and the celebration which is Mardi Gras. And even before the advent of MySpace and Facebook, they were also well aware of the awesome power of the Internet. They decided to make use of a personal Mardi Gras-related website and regular posts on Nola.com's heavily-frequented Mardi Gras Forum (sponsored by the New Orleans Times-Picayune) to spur interest and spread the word about their new walking Krewe and social network.
The concept of a Mardi Gras cyber Krewe is unique on several levels. The long reach of the Internet means that interest in the Krewe and related conversation comes from all over the US and abroad. We currently have members in 28 states spanning from one coast to the other. There are pockets of members situated near or in nearly every major metropolitan area and in many rural communities as well. People who have joined us are from all walks of life and backgrounds, but they all share a love for the Crescent City and for the spirit of Mardi Gras. Members soon discover that their non-judgmental attitudes and desire to socialize with people of all ages give them a commonality of interests providing friendships extending far beyond that of a typical special interest club. And because many of the relationships are initially developed online, there is a genuine delight in meeting in person for the first time at one of our scheduled Mardi Gras functions.
The Krewe has been formed around a very basic structure of three social functions held annually for those members who come to New Orleans' French Quarter during Mardi Gras week. Each year we now kick off our organized celebration with a big Friday night private balcony party at the famous Tropical Isle on Bourbon--complete with an excellent live band and tasty buffet. Although members independently gather and enjoy the restaurants, bars and scheduled Mardi Gras events prior to this party--this represents the first time we assemble as a group and get the chance to thoroughly enjoy each other's company. There are always a lot of good laughs, conversation and dancing--and quite a few beads are tossed over the balcony railings to the crowds that gather on the street.
The next structured meetup isn't held until the day before Fat Tuesday which is commonly known as Lundi Gras. Since 1998 we have held a very informal afternoon get-together which is currently being held at a premier local restaurant, GW Fins, located on Bienville St. just off of Bourbon. Many members like to bring lagniappes (small gifts) that are handed out to those in attendance. The Lundi Gras party provides a quieter and more laid back opportunity to get to know members a little better. GW Finn's is a beautiful setting and offers excellent food and service while we relate to each other in a more subdued environment.
But the biggest event of the week is our walking parade on Mardi Gras Day. Assembling at St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square, the KOE is one of a handful of Krewes that have been issued a city permit to stage a parade in the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday. The Krewe is accompanied by a New Orleans Police Department escort as well as the renowned Treme Brass Band. Walking a pre-arranged route, the Krewe has replaced their early Elvis-themed and costumed walks with a new unique parade theme decided on each year by our Board of Governors (you'll find a list of themes in a separate section). Members create or purchase interesting costumes that are worn to correspond with that year's theme selection. Customized beads are designed each year which are considered collector's items and are some of the finest available in the Quarter. These beads, as well as plush toys and various other theme-related items, are thrown or handed out to the crowds that gather on the streets to witness the spectacle. Stopping once at a designated "libation station" to cool down and pose for pictures with parade goers, the group then reassembles and completes their route concluding with a walk directly down Bourbon Street, providing a never-to-be-forgotten moment every year.
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