If you’re not a New Orleans resident, you probably are not aware of an annual Super Sunday that doesn’t have anything to do with football, unless you are a Tremé fan.
Every year on the Sunday closest to St. Joseph’s Day, the Mardi Gras Indians put on parades. This year, that Sunday is March 17th – also St.Patrick’s Day – which will make for a very full day for both visitors and natives.
The history of the Mardi Gras Indians is very interesting. There are about 40 Tribes, loosely connected by the Uptown Indians, who have more abstract African-inspired suits; and the Downtown Indians, who have more pictorial suits with strong Native American influence. In the older days, the Parade was a day for settling scores, with masking keeping the avengers from being identified. That’s all in the past though, with the competition now centering on the beautiful and gorgeous costumes, which are called Suits .
In the Super Sunday parade, the Indians wear the heavy, beautifully and ornately decorated Suits, which weigh up to and over 100 pounds. The Suits are heavily feathered and beaded, and take 6-9 months to design and build, and cost thousands of dollars.
From Knowla.org: “Membership in a Mardi Gras Indian tribe is voluntary and based on social networking rather than birthright. Tribes are organized with very specific roles for each member, following a system begun by early tribes such as the Creole Wild West and Yellow Pocahontas. The big chief is the tribal leader, often assisted by second chiefs and queens. The spy boy marches several blocks in front of the chiefs and queens, seeking out other tribes. He relays directions to the flag boy, who notifies the chief by waving a flag or stick. When tribes meet, the wild man clears a path among the onlookers so the chiefs can face off. Changes in the tribe membership often lead to changes in these positions, but the hierarchy of the tribal organization—akin to a military unit—is strictly maintained. Matters of any significance fall under the authority of the chief. “
The Song “Iko Iko” is based on a confrontation by two Tribes:
The main parade will take place in the Central City neighborhood, originating at A.L. Davis Park (Washington and LaSalle streets) at noon. The route is:
Starts on LaSalle
Left at Martin Luther King Blvd.
Left at South Claiborne Avenue
Left at Washington Avenue
Ends back at A.L. Davis Park
Come and learn about something new in New Orleans, and stay with us at 1896 O’Malley House while you’re at it!