Catch the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club Krewe marching tomorrow, on Mardi Gras day in New Orleans. The parade will begin at S. Claiborne and Jackson Avenue and conclude at Broad Street.
The Krewe of Zulu was founded in 1909 and has roughly 1,500 male riders. Zulu is the largest predominantly African American carnival organization known for its members wearing grass skirts and its unique and coveted throw of hand-painted coconuts.
The costumes, grass skirts, black face makeup, and outfits modeled after traditional Zulu clothing, pay homage to the Zulu people of southern Africa, who in the late 19th century drove out British colonists. The krewe uses this image to show their likeness to Zulu warriors.
The Zulu Krewe was formed out of segregation and class privilege in New Orleans during the early 1900’s. They decided if Mardi Gras had to be segregated, they would make their own Krewe, mocking the many white Carnival Krewes of the time.
The Krewes signature coconut throws began in the 1940’s, but often led to injuries when being thrown into the rowdy crowds. So, In 1988 Governor Edwin W. Edwards signed a Louisiana State Bill known as the “Coconut Bill”, into law, removing liability from injuries resulting from coconuts and enabling the tradition to resume.
The Zulu Krewe is also the only Krewe to elect their yearly King by an election process which includes campaigning just like a political position. The most notable voted in King was influential Jazz musician, Louis Armstrong in 1949. Starting from humble beginnings, the first Kings of the Zulu Krewe wore lard cans for crowns and carried banana stalks as scepters. By 2005, the Zulu parades were extravagant Mardi Gras events with lavish floats.
Zulu celebrated their 30th annual Lundi Gras Festival along the riverfront yesterday on Lundi Gras. The event lasted from 10am to 6:30pm, full of music, food, and arts and crafts. The Festival had 3 different performance stages, featuring 20 different musical artists. They also had special tables set up to support local businesses and artists. The club’s extensive philanthropic work throughout their over 100 years of existence shows how dedicated they are to the legacy of Mardi Gras and the people of New Orleans.
The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club will be parading through Uptown New Orleans at 8am on Mardi Gras day. Keep a lookout for their colorful floats and feathery costumes, and maybe you’ll get lucky enough to catch one of their hand-decorated coconuts!
See the full 2024 Mardi Gras parade schedule here.