Zulu: A music note from Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne
Louisiana’s rich history and diverse heritage is never more evident than during Carnival season.
Louisiana’s rich history and diverse heritage is never more evident than during Carnival season. Mardi Gras krewes and social clubs throughout our state keep various traditions alive each season that celebrate Louisiana’s vibrant culture. Two Carnival organizations with distinctly unique traditions are the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club and the Mardi Gras Indians.
Members of Zulu have been handing out one of the most coveted throws to paradegoers in New Orleans since 1910—coconuts. In the early 1900s Zulus began handing out fresh coconuts from floats made of wagons decorated with palmetto leaves and moss. However, both Zulus floats and coconuts have become more ornate over the past 100 years. These hand-painted “golden nuggets” are now the most famous specialty throw of Carnival season.
In 1987 Zulu’s insurance provider denied the krewe coverage due to lawsuits alleging injuries from thrown coconuts, forcing the Zulus to suspend their tradition. Working to keep the tradition alive, the Louisiana Legislature passed the “Coconut Bill” which Governor Edwin Edwards signed into law the next year, removing the krewe’s liability from coconut injuries.
Another incredible Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans is the ritual of the Mardi Gras Indians. Featured on the hit TV show Treme, these tribes have paraded during Carnival for more than a century in extravagant handcrafted costumes featuring brightly colored feathers and oversized head dresses. The Mardi Gras Indians carry on Louisiana’s music tradition as their multiple tribes show off their amazing costumes with song and dance.
The Zulus’ and Mardi Gras Indians’ Carnival traditions are beautiful examples of Louisiana’s joie de vivre. Come down, relax and enjoy the revelry and exciting celebration only available in Louisiana during Mardi Gras. Read more about Zulu and the Mardi Gras Indians.