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February 16, 2021

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New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade Schedule 2023 presents

Krewe of Bacchus
Baccawhopper float! 2016 - Photo by Jules Richard

As the son of Zeus, Bacchus is usually characterized in one of two ways:

First, as the god of vegetation specifically of the fruit of the trees. Eventually, he became the popular Greek god of wine and cheer, and wine miracles were reputedly performed at certain of his festivals. According to tradition, Bacchus died each winter and was reborn in the spring. To his followers, this cyclical revival, accompanied by the seasonal renewal of the fruits of the earth, embodied the promise of the resurrection of the dead.

The yearly rites in honor of the resurrection of Bacchus gradually evolved into the structured form of the Greek drama, and important festivals were held in honor of the god, during which great dramatic competitions were conducted.

Band marching in the Krewe of Bacchus parade in New Orleans, LA - photo by Jules Richard

History of the Krewe of Bacchus

The Krewe of Bacchus parade was founded in 1968 by a handful of New Orleans business leaders whose dream was to revitalize Carnival. However, the seeds of the Krewe of Bacchus were actually sown two decades before the present carnival organization was founded.

The original Krewe of Bacchus was the brainchild of Owen Edward Brennan, Sr., a true visionary. Brennan, owner of the Absinthe House, a famous bar on Bourbon Street, and later founder of the word famous Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street, was also the father of the first Captain of Bacchus, Owen "Pip" Brennan, Jr., and his brothers, Jimmy and Ted.

In the late 1940’s, Brennan realized that a large segment of his clientele was seasonally unhappy – namely tourists to the Mardi Gras. At that time, Carnival balls at Mardi Gras were predominately closed to anyone outside of New Orleans’ society circles.

So, In 1949, Brennan decided to spend an enormous amount of money, buck the entrenched New Orleans Society, and revolutionize the Mardi Gras. He did so by creating a brand new Krewe, called the Krewe of Bacchus, wide open to tourists.

Brennan staged two Bacchus Carnival balls, one in 1949 and the other in 1950 before his death in 1955. Regrettably, he did not live to see his idea develop into a new and lasting form.

Fast forward to 1968. For years, Carnival in New Orleans had been losing its luster slowly but surely. There was a lot of talk around town about what should be done to give a spark to the celebration.

Early in 1968, Owen "Pip" Brennan, Jr., son of the late Brennan, held a meeting at Brennan’s Restaurant to address this problem. What emerged was a rebirth of the vision his father conceived almost 20 years earlier: The Krewe of Bacchus.

Bacchus XLVII, John C. Reilly - photo by Jules Richard

It was decided that the Krewe of Bacchus would break with Carnival tradition by staging a Sunday night parade that would be the highlight of the Carnival season. Its floats would be bigger and more spectacular than anything previously seen in Carnival. Furthermore, Bacchus decided to have a national celebrity king lead its parade, breaking ranks with 113 years of Carnival tradition.

On Sunday, February 16, 1969, the Krewe of Bacchus staged its first Mardi Gras parade. The theme was "The Best Things In Life", and the procession was led by celebrity king Danny Kaye. The 250 member, 15 float entourage took to the streets of New Orleans showering thousands of spectators with over a million strings of beads and 300,000 doubloons. The new parade was a smashing success.

The Krewe of Bacchus had left a lasting mark on the City of New Orleans and had proven to be the boost that the Carnival season so desperately needed.

Now, with more than 1,000 members and 31 animated super-floats, the Krewe of Bacchus is revered as one of the most spectacular Krewes in Carnival history.

Here comes the Krewe of Bacchus, 2015 - photo by Jules Richard

Pip Brennan still serves as Captain of The Krewe of Bacchus; overseeing each detail with great pride and meticulous perfection. He is now joined by his three sons, Owen, III, Clark, and Blake, all of whom serve on the Krewe's Board of Directors. Owen, III also serves as the Krewe's Executive Director. Like their grandfather, father and uncles, this third generation of the Brennan family shares the same love of Mardi Gras and New Orleans.

Past Monarchs

1969 I Danny Kaye
1970 II Raymond Burr
1971 III Jim Nabors
1972 IV Phil Harris
1973 V Bob Hope
1974 VI Glenn Campbell
1975 VII Jackie Gleason
1976 VIII Perry Como
1977 IX Henry Winkler
1978 X Ed McMahon
1979 XI Ron Howard
1980 XII Pete Fountain
1981 XIII Sgt. John McKeel, Jr.
1982 XIV Dom Delouise
1983 XV Charlton Heston
1984 XVI Kirk Douglas
1985 XVII Lorne Greene
1986 XVIII John Ritter
1987 XIX William Shatner
1988 XX Alan Thicke
1989 XXI Billy Crystal
1990 XXII Dennis Quaid
1991 XXIII Steve Guttenberg
1992 XXIV Gerald McRaney
1993 XXV Harry Connick, Jr.
1994 XXVI Jean Claude Van-Damme
1995 XXVII John Larroquette
1996 XXVIII Dick Clark
1997 XXIX Tom Arnold
1998 XXX Drew Carey
1999 XXXI Jim Belushi
2000 XXXII Luke Perry
2001 XXXIII Larry King
2002 XXXIV Nicholas Cage
2003 XXXV Jon Lovitz
2004 XXXVI Elijah Wood
2005 XXXVII Sean Astin
2006 XXXVIII Michael Keaton

2007 XXXIX James Gandolfini
2008 XL Hulk Hogan
2009 XLI Val Kilmer
2010 Drew Brees
2011 Andy Garcia

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