With those unseasonable cold snaps a far-too-recent memory, I find myself longing for hot summer days.
Really. Lent is over, I’ve finally recovered from Mardi Gras (well, sort of), and the creative juices are starting to flow again for my next costume – which needs to be ready in August. For the annual Mid Summer Mardi Gras parade, of course.
I’ve watched this parade grow immeasurably since we moved here a few years ago. It offers a much-needed break from those hot, quiet August days in New Orleans. It’s a reason to completely forget about hurricane season … for just one night.
More importantly, by August, Mardi Gras was six months ago, and will be six months away. We need a reason to costume.
What you may not know is that the nearly 30-year old Krewe of O.A.K. (or KOAK), based out of the Maple Leaf Bar, puts on this city-wide party every year. It winds through Carrollton, beginning and ending on Oak Street.
An ever-increasing number of revelers attends each year, which bumps up, too, the costs of the parade. Someone has to block those streets and keep everyone safe as they sashay down Carrollton in their outrageous and crazy costumes. And don’t forget about the permits required for such an event; the regulations are no joke, and nor are they free.
To raise money to continue to provide the much-loved August party, the Krewe of O.A.K. is holding a silent auction next Tuesday, April 29, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Maple Leaf Bar. There will be many fantastic items to bid on, including a Seither’s Crawfish Boil (see how awesome this item is here), a Frenchy painting, and a fishing charter. Best of all, it’s free. Jacques Imo’s will be providing food and there will be performances by the 101 Drummers, with Chief Juan Pardo, and the ladies of Tap Dat. For more information and a list of some auction items, click here.
Meanwhile, to get your Krewe of O.A.K. IQ up to par, we offer:
The Top Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Mid Summer Mardi Gras.
1. The first Mid Summer Mardi Gras parade was only about 50 people. From these humble beginnings, it has grown to include more than 20,000 people as of last year.
2. The first Mid Summer Mardi Gras parade was held in 1986. It was a bar crawl through the Carrollton neighborhood (the krewe still follows this traditional route for Mardi Gras). However, due to the popularity of Mid Summer Mardi Gras, the krewe now takes a simpler, shorter route to the booze each August.
3. Rumor has it that a prominent local official came to one of the first parades wearing only a smile. Crazy, right? That’s not the half of it … nobody cared, not a single person. He allegedly became so annoyed that he borrowed an earring from someone and wore it. And his ears weren’t pierced.
4. The parade is always held at the in the end of August, hurricane looming in the Gulf or not (back in the day, it was in July, but migrated to August in the ‘90’s). In fact, the party rolled on even as Hurricane Katrina approached in August 2005. Truth be told, the bartenders at the Leaf say they didn’t miss a shift during Katrina.
5. It took a few years before KOAK chose its first “anatomically correct” Queen. This krewe has a looser definition of queen than most krewes do.
6. The O.A.K. in KOAK stands for “Outrageous and Kinky.” If you have ever been to the parade or a krewe ball, this totally makes sense. For those who have yet to participate, you now have a heads’ up on appropriate costuming. My husband was almost turned away on our first KOAK outing for not being costumed enough (ahem … showing enough skin). See recent costumes here and here.
7. This one you already know: You’re not doing anything else anyway. All of your favorite restaurants are closed. It’s August, it’s hot, and it’s a reason to costume half naked and have it all be acceptable (see #6 above, or #3 for that matter. And remember – it’s HOT).
8. Do you love the Saints? (Answer: YES). And the Popes, a.k.a. the Bless You Boys? (Of course!) Each one of them has been, or currently is, King of the Krewe of O.A.K. If you come to the silent auction, you may get your chance to meet one of them. Fun fact: Whistle Monsta was the krewe’s king last year. WHO DAT!
9. Mid Summer Mardi Gras is so popular, it even has its own Yelp page.
10. King Fish and Queen Muffin are your hosts for the 2014 Mid Summer Mardi Gras. Pay them homageat the April 29 event at the Maple Leaf Bar.
Photographer Jason Kruppa offers a Krewe of O.A.K. gallery below.
What you need to know about the Mid Summer Mardi Gras fundraiser: