Uptown New Orleans, St. Charles Streetcar (turns at Erato)
Date: January 6, 2022 - Time: 7:00 p.m.
PHUNNY PHORTY PHELLOWS PHOTO LIBRARY - -
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The Phunny Phorty Phellows
Honi soit qui mal y pense
Celebrating the arrival of the Carnival Season, the costumed and
masked krewe of the Phunny Phorty Phellows will assemble (socially
distanced) on Twelfth Night, January 6, 2021 (Thursday) in the Willow
Street Car Barn.
At 7pm sharp, the Phunny Phorty Phellows will board
the streetcar and begin their traditional ride to "Herarld
the Arrival of Carnival" down the St. Charles Ave. Streetcar
The public will not be allowed in or near the streetcar
barn in keeping with RTA COVID-19 restrictions. All are invited
to come see the PPP throughout the route but please be responsible
as we encourage everyone to follow all the City guidelines in place
(wearing a mask, socially distance from other groups, etc click
here for more info https://ready.nola.gov/incident/coronavirus/safe-reopening/
). Of course Storyville Stompers will be there as well.
The Phellows are an historic Mardi Gras organization
that first took to the streets 1878 through 1898. They were known
for their satirical parades and today¹s krewe members’
costumes often reflect topical themes. The group was revived in
One Carnival historian has referred to the organization as the “Dessert
The Phunny Phorty Phellows first appeared on Fat
Tuesday, 1878, when they began the tradition of following the Rex
parade. Since that time, the Phunny Phorty Phellows have made
distinguished themselves as one of the liveliest additions to Mardi
Gras with their hijinks and well-meaning mockery of the day's events
(one 1881 float depicted Rex's traditional symbol, the Boeuf Gras,
as a heifer). The original Phunny Phorty ceased parading and ultimately
disbanded in 1885.
In 1981, 83 years after their predecessors last
parade, a new group of Phellows emerged to revive the irreverent tradition
as members of the Krewe of Clones (the impetus of today's wildly ribald
In 1982 the Phunny Phorty Phellows became the official heralds of
Mardi Gras with their Twelfth Night ride in a traditional New Orleans
streetcar announcing that, at last, the pre-Lenten season of “phun
and phrivolity had arrived.
Humor and whimsy are still very much a part of the Phunny Phorty tradition
with some members favoring costumes inspired by current events and
the peculiarities of local culture. Masked revelers gather at the
streetcar barn in Uptown New Orleans for the Twelfth Night ride and
get into the spirit of the event by carrying signs and banners with
humorous slogans and messages. There are champagne toasts and second
line dancing as the sounds of the famous Storyville Stompers New Orleans
Brass Band fill the air; the Phellows, after cutting a ribbon and
announcing it's Carnival Time!” then board a decked-out party
While on their merry
way, the Phellows and other revelers sip champagne, eat King
Cake, dance and let fly with the very first beads of
the Mardi Gras season. There are two King Cakes used for this phirst
night phrolic, one for the female members and one for the gents.
Custom dictates that whoever takes the slices containing the plastic
Carnival babies are declared Queen and Boss Phellow for the year.
The Phellows board at the RTA streetcar barn, located on Willow
Street, at 6:30 p.m. on Twelfth Night, Thursday, January 6th, 2022.
The Phunny ride will begin at 7:00 p.m. sharp. The streetcar, which,
traditionally, is still bedecked in it's yuletide dressings, will
leave the station for a route that will take the partying Phellows.
All this revelry is in keeping with the motto printed on a Phunny
Phorty Phellows 1896 bulletin:
Honi soit qui mal y pense
"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men"
the Phunny Phorty Phellows Krewe
It is March 5th, 1878, a rather late Mardi Gras Day. Though Carnival
has been celebrated for quite a long time, organized parades are
still a novelty. Comus has been active for twenty years, but Rex
is a mere six years old. Mardi Gras revelry consists primarily of
daytime street masking and nighttime balls.
Rex's parade of modern gods in 1878 was a comic display. Past parades
had been followed, despite his objections, by maskers on foot. But,
this year what's that we see coming behind Rex? Instead of a ragtag
group of motley, miscellaneous maskers, it's another parade! For
the first time a new group follows Rex with their agreement. It
is the first parade of the Krewe of Phunny Phorty Phellows, spelled
with "ph"es, not "f"s.
The first appearance of the PPP was
a surprise to the public, and though modest in comparison with future
displays, it created a sensation. Fantastic themes depicted by bizarre
floats and grotesque maskers thrilled the public after the more
pretentious parade headed by the King of Carnival and a live Boeuf
Gras corralled on a rolling platform.
For eight years the Phunny Phorty Phellows were the "dessert"
of carnival, fostered by leading businessmen of the city. They created
an element of fun which made the passing of stupendous Rex seem
little more than a necessary evil to be born with patience until
the "Big 40" arrived. Satire and plain fun for the sake
of fun were so well mixed that the parade was a source of unalloyed
enjoyment for young and old. Their mottoes were:
"Honi soit qui mal y pense,"
or "Evil to them that think evil"
"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of
Its symbol was an owl. Among their innovations
was the use of the term "Boss" rather than "King."
The PPP continued to parade following Rex and held balls from 1880
until 1885 at the Odd Fellows Hall and the St. Charles Theater.
Alas, 1885 was the beginning of the end for the PPP. That year there
was only a foot parade of maskers, and during the years 1886-1895
there were no presentations.
The fanciful Phellows resumed their outlandish pageants in 1896
following Rex as in previous years. A tableau ball with a queen
and maids ruled with the Boss at the French Opera House in 1896.
The Friday before Mardi Gras in 1898 was the last nineteenth-century
appearance of the Phunny Phorty Phellows at a night parade.
The modern organization was revived
in 1981 by a small group of friends and Mardi Gras enthusiasts.
It has continued without interruption to the present day. The PPP
paraded with the Krewe of Clones from 1981 until 1986. In 1982 we
also began a tradition of riding the streetcar line (in a streetcar)
and proclaiming the arrival of the Carnival season on Twelfth Night.
That is the night when the new Boss and Queen are chosen by the
traditional King Cake method as well as the occasion of the sumptuous
Coronation Ball. A "Carnival Countdown" takes place right
before the Phellows board the streetcar.
The Storyville Stompers is the official band for the Streetcar Ride
and Benny Grunch and the Bunch play at the Coronation Ball.
Other innovations and features: Beautiful invitations and dance
cards like 1800s by a series of royal artists: Beth Kesmodel, Hal
Pluche, Jeanne Woods, Arthur Nead, and Kevin Barre.