Krewe de Who gives bailouts to Mardi Gras revelers

Published 12:31 am Sunday, February 15, 2009

NATCHEZ — They’re masked, they’re partying, but they’re not telling you who they are.

But perhaps despite that fact, when the Krewe de Who launched their walking parade Saturday, it was very public as they made their way through the downtown neighborhoods over the course of a couple of hours, accompanied by a second line band.

The parade’s theme was “The Second-Line Bailout,” a satirical look at the Troubled Assets Relief Fund recently passed by Congress.

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Some members of the parade were dressed as silver construction screws to represent “the screwed taxpayers,” and others carried a coffin with the logos of financial institutions that received bailout funds written on it.

King Freddie Mac and Queen Fannie Mae led the parade, followed by out-of-work business executives wearing golden parachutes or signs that read “will work for $5.5 million bonus” and “will work for Lear jet.”

As he danced in the street, Uncle Sam tossed money into the air.

Watching from his porch, Bob Barnes said he appreciated the parade.

“This is the best one they have ever had,” Barnes said.

Down the street, Reen Faulkner said she also enjoyed the procession.

“I think we should be able to have a parade like that whenever we want to, because it brings out the joy in the community,” she said.

Founded in 1998 and drawing some loose inspiration from the Krewe de Vieux and the Jefferson Street Buzzards of New Orleans, the Krewe de Who keeps to the tradition of the mystic krewe — not only are they masked, but they fiercely keep their identities hidden.

Who becomes a member of the Krewe de Who is decided by the founder and sole individual in charge of the krewe, a person who bears the title of Dictator. There is one rule — members have to be older than 30.

They also have a protocol master, styled the Duke of Earl, who in the words of the Dictator, “reels it in if we want to do something you can’t do in Natchez.”

The king and queen are chosen at a Christmas party, in which everyone who wants to be krewe royalty puts their name in a box to be drawn. Their “draw-out ball” is meant to be a laid-back lampoon of the “call-out ball” of more formal Mardi Gras organizations.

And though their stated goal is to have one big party, the krewe donates any money they have left over to Pleasant Acre Day School, and if they don’t have any money, they do a fundraiser later in the year.

Though they have had as many as 100 participants in the past, membership in the krewe is currently capped at 75.