VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Mardi Gras Goes to the Dogs

A scene from the 2011 Barkus parade. Photo courtesy of www.barkus.org.


Some may picture Mardi Gras as a wild celebration — suited for tail chasing, party animals.

They would be right.

But only in the case of the Mystic Krewe Barkus, New Orleans most prestigious dog Mardi Gras celebration.

Barkus will host its 21st annual parade this Sunday, Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m.  Both bipeds and quadrupeds march together in this French Quarter parade, starting in Armstrong Park. Profits from the celebration go to area animal non-profits.

Daytime parades, like Barkus, are so tame dogs — and children — join in the fun.  Krewes, or parade organizations, that roll in the morning and afternoon are family events.  But they keep the joyous, satirical Mardi Gras spirit.

Barkus’ themes have embodied the Carnival spirit of parody; for example 1998’s “Titanic: Dogs and Children First” and this year’s “Tails and Tiaras: Here Comes Honey Bow Wow!”

Yes, the dogs do wear avant-garde costumes.  My favorites on www.barkus.org from years past include Bark Obama and The Wizard of Oz foursome.  And, it wouldn’t be a Mardi Gras parade without floats.  While some dogs walk the route on a leash, other families use wagons and shopping carts to construct small canine sized floats.

Barkus, just like other krewes, crowns a King and Queen.   The king is usually a member of the organization while the queen always comes from humble beginnings.  To be the queen of Barkus, one must be a rescue.

She is announced at the annual Barkus Ball, the Friday before the event.  Just like a human Mardi Gras ball there is great food and fun.  Formal wear, however, is optional and four-legged guests can wear nothing at all.

To find out more about Barkus, please visit www.barkus.org.