Krewe of Mid-City - Feb. 7

Krewe of Mid-City - Feb. 7

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Krewe of Morpheus rolls on Friday, Feb. 5 at 11:45 a.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 ends at Decatur St.

The Krewe of Mid-City was founded by Charles A. Bourgeois and the Mid-City Civic Association in the early 1930's. Mr. Bourgeois created the Krewe's motto, "Pour La Joie de Vivre" ("For the Joy of Living") and designed the familiar interlocking heart emblem -- both are still in use today. Mr. Bourgeois and his wife, Gertrude, were the first monarchs of Mid-City reigning over the Krewe's inaugural parade; comprised of six small, mule-drawn floats, a few bands and mounted riders, the parade was themed "Romance of 1934."

Several innovative "firsts" were introduced to the Mardi Gras tradition by Mid-City and the Krewe was the first to use animation in float designs (1947). This early motion was achieved by volunteer Boy Scouts who were concealed inside the floats working several mechanisms, including pedaling stationary bikes to turn cables and gears on external devices.

Artist and painter Roy Kern was the earliest designer of Mid-City's famous colorfully decorated foil floats and eventually passed on the tradition to his daughter, Bettie Rae Kern.

Memorable Bettie Rae Kern theme designs included "Toyland," "Fairies," and "Magic." Her "Candy" theme (1955) was accentuated by having the floats spray the smell of the particular candy (licorice, peppermint and cotton candy, for instance) represented by the float titles. Ms. Kern's many years of sparkling fantasy helped set Mid-City apart very early on from other parades and helped to create the special appeal that endeared Mid-City to generations of New Orleanians over the years.

Upon the death of Ms. Kern in 1992 the design torch was passed to Royal Artists who produced parade themes until 1998. Sadly, Royal Artists were unable to duplicate many of the secret techniques and applications innovated by Ms. Kern and the dazzle of earlier years seemed lost. But from within the ranks of Royal Artists there existed one designer who had studied directly under the tutelage of Ms. Kern in the early part of his career. Ricardo Pustanio stepped forward to begin redesigning and recreating the innovative work of Ms. Kern to fit a new era, and his work and dedication for the 1996 through 1998 parade seasons earned him the prestigious position of Artist / Designer for the Krewe of Mid-City. In the fall of 1998 he left Royal Artists to assume the new position full-time.

In a record three months, Ricardo produced his premiere theme, "Love is in the Air," and introduced many of his signature designs and recreations of many of Ms. Kern's designs that had been closely guarded secrets appeared in new mediums and expressions. Ricardo truly re-invented the dazzling tradition of the Mid-City parade, taking it full speed ahead into the new millennium.

With an eye to the past, Ricardo set out to thank those who had preceded him with his 2003 theme, "Foiled Again," marking the Krewe's 70th Anniversary year. His personal homage to founder Charles Bourgeois was a heart-filled float entitled "Romance of 1934" and Ricardo acknowledged the many years of excellence produced by Bettie Rae Kern with the dazzling "Oops! I'm Foiled Again!" Even Royal Artists got a nod with a float dedicated to their theme, "Hold Onto Your Hat

The infusion of Ricardo Pustanio's innovative new techniques and original handmade foil designs brought new life to parade and Krewe alike and helped set new standards in Mardi Gras parade design. His glittering creations of foil flora and fauna and uniquely humorous interpretations of the familiar and oddball have caught the eye of everyone from parade goers to critics. His talent, efforts and dedication have been instrumental in securing for Mid-City the coveted title of "Best Day Parade" for three of the last four years, with only Rex overshadowing Mid-City as Best Overall Parade of 2004.

The 2004 Mardi Gras season also saw the spectacular night-time debut of Ricardo's Mid-City work when the Krewe of Ancient Druids took a Mid-City float on loan for it's night time roll through Uptown. The float, re titled"MidSortaUptownCity" for the night, was brimming with added glamour and glitz including lights (a Mid-City first) and new foiled creations that wowed the crowds on the traditional Uptown parade route. One onlooker even observed, "Just think if he (Ricardo) started doing night parades!" Hmmmm….

The Krewe of Mid-City is the fifth oldest continuously parading organization of the New Orleans Mardi Gras season and it continues to dazzle and awe under the creative eye and genius of Ricardo Pustanio. The Krewe's Foil covered floats are the only ones of their type used in the New Orleans Mardi Gras. some locals say it rivals the Rose Bowl Parade in shear beauty. This is definitely the Parade watchers parade to see and experience.

But, as much as entertainment and artistic achievement, dedication and community service are also cornerstones that have distinguished the Krewe of Mid-City over the generations.

Each year, Mid-City selects a boy and girl from the Ronald McDonald House to serve as honorary King and Queen, reigning over the traditional Sunday-before-Mardi Gras ride. The Krewe also invites honorary guests to serve as Grand Marshal each year; these participants are chosen for their devotion and contribution to the New Orleans community and throughout the region. Additionally, Mid-City keeps alive one of the oldest traditions of Mardi Gras – The Battle of the Bands competition"The Greatest Bands in America" in which many of America's premiere high school bands travel to New Orleans every year to march in the parade and compete for the prestigious title.

With it's colorful history, honored traditions, splendid artistic focus, and dedication to community, the Krewe of Mid-City truly demonstrates their motto "Pour La Joie de Vivre" in everything they do!

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