Arthur Hardy: Hermes, D’Etat, Morpheus, Centurions, Selene hit the streets Friday

New Orleans Carnival expert -- Arthur Hardy
New Orleans Carnival expert -- Arthur Hardy

Five parades roll on Friday evening, including a triple-header Uptown, a parade in Metairie and another in Slidell.

“The Diamond Jubilee” is the theme of this year’s Krewe of Hermes parade. This krewe is credited with infusing new life into Carnvial when it debuted in 1937 as the nation emerged from the Depression. The captain leads the parade on a white horse, followed by a scepter-waving Hermes on his ornate throne. Flambeaux and masked lieutenants on horseback surround the club’s 29 floats, which are constructed by Blaine Kern Artists in collaboration with designer Henri Schindler.

The 707 male maskers will wear lighted costumes that are color-coordinated in a manner that befits the individual floats. Seventy-fifth anniversary throws include 29 float-specific hand-strung medallion beads, lighted tumblers, pearl bracelets with gold winged feet, cowbells and doubloons in four colors.

The 460 men of Le Krewe D’Etat present a 22-float satirical-themed procession. Besides the floats, the Candy Wagon and the Dictator’s Banana Wagon are included, both pulled by mules in the old traditional style.

The krewe’s king is called the Dictator and his identity is secret.

The 18th annual parade features the Budweiser Clydesdales and bands such as Brother Martin High, Chalmette High, Tulane University, and the Prime Time Brass Band from New York. Throws include plush dictators, blinking flambeaux beads, high priests beads and skull beads.

D’Etat was the first to introduce the blinking bead as a Mardi Gras throw. The fabled Skeleton Walking Krewe will hand out wooden nickels and the 11th edition of the club’s Carnival Bulletin, which depicts and describes each float. The parade will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on WDSU-TV Saturday, March 1 at 6 PM.

The Krewe of Morpheus has slowly grown into a major parade that features more than 500 male and female members. The 13th annual parade rolls with a 20-float procession entitled, “Morpheus Cruises the Streets of New Orleans.” Float subjects include Napoleon Avenue, Bourbon Street, Nashville Avenue and Tulane Avenue. Look for a brand new float for the king and queen. Sixteen marching bands from Louisiana and four other states will participate. Throws include medallion beads, light-up caps, plush moons, plush sleepy sheep and doubloons in two colors.

In its 35-year history, the Krewe of Centurions has moved its parade from Harahan to Metairie and has changed its parade night three times before becoming a fixture on the Friday before Fat Tuesday. “And The Beat Goes On” is the theme of this year’s procession, which will be led by the Archbishop Rummel marching band. The 19-float parade features a grand title float and traditionally includes more than 50 units. Marching bands will participate in the Rhythm on the Route band contest. Signature items to be tossed by the krewe’s 300 members are medallion beads, doubloons in six colors, foam swords, and a Centurions collectible stress doll named “Comicus.”

One of St. Tammany’s most successful parading organizations is the 16-year-old Krewe of Selene, which is comprised of 300 businesswomen. This year’s 14-float procession is entitled, “Selene Salutes TV Classics.” Floats depict programs such as Gunsmoke, I Love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days and Taxi. Hand-made elaborately decorated purses are Selene’s top throws. Marching bands include ones from Long Beach High School in Long Beach, Mississippi, and Bay High in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.