The Krewe of Choctaw starts on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. in Uptown New Orleans.
It follows the traditional Uptown parade route, starting at the intersection of Jefferson Ave. and Magazine St. From there, the parade rolls to Napoleon Ave. and makes a left.
Once it reaches St. Charles Ave., the parade makes a right and heads all the way past Lee Circle to Canal St.
The krewe makes a U-turn at Burgundy St., heads back down Canal St., and then makes a right on Tchoupitoulas St., ending at Poydras St.
Originally formed as a social organization, Choctaw did not parade until 1939 when ten old U.S. Government mail wagons were purchased from a salvage company for $50.00 each. The old stripped-down mail wagons formed the chassis for the first Choctaw carnival parade floats.
Choctaw’s organizing group were Leonard Santos, L. “Whitey” Knollman, Albert Leddy, Louis Zinc, A.P. Gary, W.N. Burmaster, Henry Klink and John Beninate. Meetings were held in the rear of the Santos Cafe, located at Slidell and Brooklyn Ave., Algiers.
While Choctaw fought for survival, he rebuilt his ten mail trucks into floats and used the New Orleans Sanitation garage, and a U.S. Naval Station warehouse as dens, before moving into his own permanment lair at 219 Newton St., Algiers.
Santos and Wendell N. Burmaster labored long and hard to keep the organization thriving. Burmaster was President from 1935 to 1946, when he retired because of ill health.
While clouds of World War II formed, Chief Choctaw and his Krewe found time to offer entertainment for their loyal subjects. The initial Choctaw street parade took place in 1939, with Santos as the first Chief.
William Dubret ruled as the second Chief in 1940. Then came A.P. Gary, along with the first Choctaw Princess, Miss June Barnet in 1941. As the war struck closer to home, Chief Choctaw discontinued his activities until 1946. It was at this time that Chief Choctaw revived the annual river parade. John Beninate was the 1946 Chief Choctaw.
In 1939, dances and parties were held at various locations which eventually led to a ball and tableau at the Martin Behrman Memorial Gym, until 1949. In 1950, Chief Choctaw moved to the J.P. Skelly Memorial Gym. 1965, Chief Choctaw needed more room for his people and moved to the Municipal Auditorium. In 1980, Chief Choctaw held his first Pow Wow at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.
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