Iris celebrates 100 years

Iris celebrates 100 years

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The year was 1917 and the country was in the middle of World War I. It was also years before women would even have the right to vote.

But in New Orleans, Aminthe Nungesser decided it was the perfect time to start an all-female Carnival organization. She named it the Krewe of Iris.

Now celebrating its 100th anniversary, the club has only had four captains in its history. Current captain Kristin Danflous said her decision to take over five years ago came down to family.

"I got home and talked to my husband and I said, 'You know what Billy? I think i got this. This is me. This is me.' I mean, I love people. I love to party. I love to think ahead. I love Mardi Gras. I'm like, 'You know what? I'm not letting thus out of my family,'" said Danflous.

Danflous' aunt, Irma Strode, and her grandmother, Joy Oswald, also led the krewe.

Carnival historian Jimmy Clark says it was a smart move by Nungesser to turn over the krewe to Strode.

"She was keen enough to see that Irma Strode had the potential to take Iris where she would have liked to eventually see Iris go," said Clark.

Danflous' grandmother took it over in 1987 and then it became her turn. 
"So it was a little bit of, 'Trust me, I got this.' Then I said to Mama Joy, 'I got this, right?'" added Danflous.

But Danflous' first year brought some headaches when it stormed on parade day.

"But let me tell you, the next year there was a plan. Aunt Irma was looking down on me. Like, 'I'm going to give you another chance.' Same exact forecast, terrible, terrible. I said guess what? We're moving to another day. I went to the police meeting and I said, 'Iris is moving on Sunday. We have seniority.' After that we ended up moving the parade and it ended up being a perfect day and we sailed right along and then from that day on my grandparents said, 'It's yours,'" said Danflous.

In honor of Iris' 100th anniversary, a new exhibit opened at the Louisiana State Museum. It's called "Iris and the Goddesses of Carnival." The exhibit features artifacts, dresses and invitations detailing the history of Iris.

"Iris is the pillar of stability when it comes to Mardi Gras krewes, especially the female clubs. It got such a storied history," said Clark.

It also celebrates some of today's popular superkrewes like Nyx and the Krewe of Muses, and well as some forgotten groups.

Danflous said she's aware of what an honor it is to lead Iris every time she steps on her captain's float.

"I turn around and - it's a ritual - and I turn around and I look and I see all the floats behind me and I'm like, I did this. I did this, this is me and it's going. Me and my officers and my beautiful krewe. This is us. I love it, " said Danflous.

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