ALGIERS, LA (WVUE) - The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club gets a lot of credit for being the oldest and the largest African American parade, but on the West Bank, it's all about the Krewe of NOMTOC.
It all started in 1951 with the Jugs Social Club.
"Three or four of the guys who were the founding members of this organization, attended the Young Men of Illinois Club's ball. Back then there was no bridge so they had to cross on the ferry and that gave them a lot of time to talk and have a conversation on the way back," said the group's president James Henderson.
It was on that ride that NOMTOC, which stand for New Orleans' Most Talked of Club was born.
They group set up home base in an Algier's clubhouse. The house not only gave members a place to socialize, but it also served as a place for them to plan how they would give back to their neighbors.
"We started in the community with the original members and they saw their roll as servant in the community. They did voter registration drives, and thanksgiving and food drives," added Henderson.
He said in 1970 Mayor Moon Landrieu was instrumental in helping the krewe to become the first African American krewe to roll on the West Bank.
Henderson said the demand to get in the krewe has exploded in recent years. "Ridership has jumped. It's almost doubled. I think we're up to almost 600," he said.
The krewe prides itself with attracting some of the best bands around.
"We work our budget so we can have good bands in the parades," added Henderson.
One of the things that Henderson loves about the people who come to the parade is that they literally demand what they want.
"They get to come to the float and shop. They tell you what they want. It's not throw me something mister, it's I want that, no no I want that," joked Henderson.
But beyond the pageantry and parade glitz Henderson hopes NOMTOC will keep leading by example.
"We've helped families that have been distressed in different ways that need help. We see events and just embrace them and try to help out when we can.
We're having a great time with Mardi Gras. We also want to impact people's lives in a different way," said Henderson.