May 16, 2024 - News

City Council removes Nyx from New Orleans Mardi Gras calendar

A Mardi Gras float rolls down the parade route. The float shows three larger-than-life martinis at the front.

Nyx rolls during Mardi Gras 2024. Photo: Erika Goldring/Axios

New Orleans City Council voted unanimously Thursday to nix the Krewe of Nyx from the official Mardi Gras parade calendar.

Why it matters: The ordinance, pending Mayor LaToya Cantrell's signature, puts an exclamation point at the end of a string of controversies for the Carnival krewe that once thundered down the route as one of the city's largest.

The big picture: Krewes hold exclusive rights to request parade permits on given days in the lead-up to Mardi Gras in New Orleans based on their placement on the official parade schedule.

  • That schedule is embedded within city code, so editing it requires a City Council vote.

Yes, but: That calendar only covers the final two weeks of Mardi Gras, which are city-sponsored.

  • Nyx could join the krewes that parade earlier in the season should they request and successfully obtain a permit.
  • "We're going to be a krewe no matter what," said Nyx member Sharon Perschall. "We'll have to see what [the city] allows us to do."

Catch up quick: The Krewe of Nyx was founded in 2011, and soon boasted one of the largest memberships among the city's Carnival organizations.

  • Krewe leadership faced its first sign of trouble in 2017 with accusations of financial mismanagement. Then its founder and captain, Julie Lea, came under fire in 2020 for an #AllLivesMatter social media post.
  • In recent years, membership and parade attendance has appeared to dwindle.
  • Then, City Councilman-at-large JP Morrell made clear his intention to remove Nyx from the Mardi Gras schedule during an April committee meeting.
  • In that meeting, Morrell said the krewe had violated a ban on Carnival commercialization by throwing membership advertisements from its floats.

The other side: Lea had offered to step down, said krewe lawyer Doug Sunseri, and the krewe was actively negotiating plans to replace her leadership this week.

  • Sunseri said about 250 members remain in Nyx, but Perschall was the only one to offer supporting comments in Thursday's meeting.
  • "Does this mean any permit can be pulled because someone else wants the spot?" she asked during City Council. "Please, do not punish us because of prior political issues with our captain."

Between the lines: In past years, krewes have opted out of parading, but city code hasn't previously spelled out how to remove a krewe from the parade calendar.

  • Thursday's move sets a precedent for future removals as the City Council's new Carnival Legislative Advisory Committee looks to more closely regulate New Orleans' biggest annual event.

State of play: The ordinance merely removed Nyx, leaving the rest of the calendar intact.

  • That means the Krewe of Druids' placement on the schedule remains on the Wednesday before Mardi Gras.
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