Eco-Friendly Walking Parade Embraces Old Mardi Gras Traditions and Adds a New Spin on the Revelry Introducing: Krewe de Canailles
Blaze Petersen and his krewe weren’t about to let Lafayette Mardi Gras fade into oblivion. After gathering a likeminded group of friends, Krewe de Canailles was born. In 2017, a few friends had similar ideas about doing something different in the Lafayette Mardi Gras scene.
“We were all in a similar age group and we all looked back at how Mardi Gras used to be,” explains Petersen. “Attendance, with the exception of Rio, was down at parades. We saw an opportunity to make something fun and interesting.”
Fun and interesting is exactly what the only walking parade in Lafayette was going for. They put together a krewe dedicated to Lafayette’s immense local artistic community and combined that with their shared love of Lafayette and its culture. They also saw an opportunity to bring people to downtown.
The Cannailes Commitment
“Krewe de Canailles is committed to showing love for the city of Lafayette, promoting and providing an outlet of creative expression in the community, and reverence to the historic tradition of walking parades in Louisiana Mardi Gras,” Petersen says. “We do this in an open, inclusive, and earth-conscious manner.”
They believe that by doing things this way they will enrich the local Mardi Gras experience for the entire community.
It’s been a resounding success. This year the Krewe and fans will gather on Valentine’s Day to parade through downtown Lafayette. The theme, “Louisiana Festivals.”
“We want anyone who wants to be a part of a Mardi Gras krewe to be able to without paying a hefty membership fee and spending a lot on costumes.”
Their inclusive nature isn’t the only thing unique about Krewe de Canailles. Petersen says they are proud of their eco-friendly nature of the walking parade as well. “The eco-friendly aspect of our mission was super important from the beginning. Mardi Gras produces tons of non-recyclable trash each year, and we did not want to be a part of that.”
We see the aftermath of Mardi Gras all over the streets of Lafayette. Street after street lined with plastic beads; Petersen explains that throwing beads is part of the tradition for other krewes. However, it wasn’t quite right for the Krewe de Canailles.
“We do love the idea that a lot of New Orleans krewes have of making special, handmade throws to be given to people, items that people will keep as mementos from year to year. Our krewes hand out wooden doubloons that are made locally and whatever handmade throws they want.”
People in the krewe have given out everything from loaves of bread to sleeping masks to sweet cards with positive messages for kids. Additionally, they didn’t want any motorized vehicles or large floats burning fuel. As a result, all floats have to be pulled with man or woman-power only. The vehicle-free aspect also has another plus for people walking in the parade and the parade-goers.
“We don’t have barricades along the parade route, except at points where required by police, so krewe members can really interact with the crowd since we’re on their level instead of up above throwing things down from floats. That’s really important to us, that people feel like they’re part of the experience, not just watching it go by.”
A new idea that builds off of the old traditions of a good old-fashioned Mardi Gras. If you want to follow the shenanigans of the Krewe de Canailles, give their Facebook page a like and join them in 2020 on February 14 as they take over downtown.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We don’t have kings or queens and anything goes in terms of costumes and floats, as long as it’s not offensive. It is Mardi Gras after all! We like the old traditions of being a little mischievous, so we try to stay true to our name.”