Mardi Gras Marching Krewes – how you can join the fun!Thought about joining a krewe? Get the scoop as others thought the same, joined and love it. Let’s peek inside and meet some of the masked revelers.Laissez Boys Taylor Galyean is one of five board members with the Laissez Boys, his sixth year in the seven year history of the group. It’s a jolly krewe that enjoys strolling the parade route in the comfort of their recliners. There’s really no hierarchy, no formal rolling of the recliners. The electric-powered chairs are styled by each member, jazzed up with lamps, an ice chest or whatever fits their style.The Laissez Boys roll in two parades, Muses and Tucks, and they meet two to three times a year for social events outside of the parades.Like most krewes, it’s all about the people. Galyean recalls one sunny day during the Tucks parade. “The krewe stopped under a canopy of live oak trees on St Charles Avenue,” says Galyean. “Louis Prima is singing, we jump out of our chairs and take the hand of parade goers to dance.”Baby Doll LadiesManya Carter Louis is an educator, a native of New Orleans, and a member of the Baby Doll Ladies marching krewe. Her nickname, Baby Doll Lady Sweet-Tart, embodies what Louis says is her personality, “Sweet-nice and tart-straight with no chaser.”It’s fun, unique, and at times a bit grueling. “We must be healthy in body, mind, spirit and stamina,” says Louis, adding they do more than dance on Mardi Gras. “The New Orleans Society of Dance (Baby Doll Ladies) has produced cabarets and a documentary telling the history of BDL, along with performances in the children’s tent at Jazz Fest and local schools, with the purpose of exposing kids to New Orleans culture and dance.”Each BDL wears custom face painting, reflective of her Baby Doll Lady nickname, which is usually assigned upon induction into the group. The members do all of the designs and face painting.Besides the numerous hours of dance practice, workouts, costume fittings and dancing through the streets of New Orleans, Louis admits the best part is the sisterhood.Chewbacchus subkrewe Men (and Women AND Aliens) in Black While some of us transform into a tutu butterfly princess, others seek comic book characters. The Chewbacchus krewe and its subkrewes meander across the Marigny on a mission to save the galaxy; one drunken nerd at a time.Elden Spear otherwise known as Agent El, and his son, Arlo, formed the Men in Black, a subkrewe of the mothership in 2013. Spear and Heather Ruoss are the capos (captains) and work together to make throws and parade drinks. A bit intimated by the elaborate costumes of the other krewes, but eager to join the fun, Spear looked for something different. “We had a family wedding coming up and decided to get our suits and costumes at the same time,” says Spear. “We told the overlords we would be last in the parade and flash our neuralyzers into the crowd. People were told that they didn't see a parade, that it was only light from the planet Venus reflecting off of swamp gas.” Besides the outlandish costumes, the Chewbacchus krewe comes up with some catchy themes each year including one year where they became a religion. “That got some national and worldwide attention; there were press clippings from London, and we were mentioned in a newscast from Indonesia,” says Spear.Ritmeaux (Rhythm) Krewe and Amazons Krewe The Ritmeaux Krewe, founded in 2016 by Bianca San Martin, is focused on promoting Hispanic/Latino heritage through Latin dance and music. Bianca’s mother, Eva Hurst, joined the krewe, and at the age of 60, she is a chaperone, water girl, and an important member of the spirit squad.More than a Mardi Gras walking krewe, Ritmeaux is a support group, practicing recovery through bonding, along with exercise and social activities. Hurst knows this first and as she’s also a cancer survivor. “Being involved has given me that extra push that I needed to continue fighting the good fight,” says Hurst, adding it’s both healthy and fun. “It kept me active, socially engaged and most of all, I was able to spend quality time with my daughter.”One of her fondest moments of the parade is watching the crowd’s reaction. “I love when the parade stops and the dancers pull dance partners from the crowd,” says Hurst, adding she is originally from Honduras. “I have been in New Orleans since 1964, and it is really refreshing to see my culture represented in the parades.”Hurst was looking for a cancer support group, and she found the Amazons krewe created by Dianne Honoré. Seen here in the photo, both have battled cancer, and both are dedicated to winning and helping others.The Amazons were founded in 2012 after Honoré was diagnosed with breast cancer. In her battle, she found so many courageous, giving people that she decided to bring them all together to help others. Fearless, the Amazons see themselves as a service group and then as a marching troupe; a symbol of hope. They take it to the streets during Carnival dressed in custom designed breastplates with shields and swords.They march in the Joan of Arc and Femme Fatale parades, and in February 2018 became the first group founded by and in support of cancer patients to host their own Lundi Gras parade through the streets of New Orleans. Mande Milkshakers from MandevilleDressed in fluffy polka-dot skirts, pearls and aprons, the Mande Milkshakers harken back to an era of gathering at the soda shop sipping on milkshakes. The first women’s marching group in St. Tammany Parish, Tina Rhinehart formed the group in 2016 dedicated to raising funds for nonprofits. Melissa Serpas joined the sixty-one-member group in January 2017 and admits the crowed enthusiasm is off the charts.“Dancing and connecting with the kids is a ton of fun,” says Serpas, adding they rehearse twice a week. “We dance non-stop from the time we roll until we disband, and the crowds appreciate that.”The krewe marches year-round. They plan custom routines for each holiday parade along with special events. Following the group’s Four Pillars—fun, fitness, friendship and philanthropy, Serpas admits the Mande friendships will last a lifetime.“We have a strong bond and support system,” says Serpas. “Joining the Mandes was like gaining a new extended family.”Join the FunOf course this is only a smidgen of the fun and fantasy that makes Mardi Gras so special. Why not join the fun, put on your dancing shoes, shimmy to the front and get down with the dancing krewes. Or better yet, check out the krewe tryouts– most are listed on their websites. Deborah Burst is a local author, speaker and award-winning travel and lifestyle journalist/photographer. She is also co-founder of the Northshore Literary Society and a regular contributor to our publications.