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Welcome to the Phunny Phorty Phellows

History

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KREWE OF PHUNNY PHORTY PHELLOWS

Past Royalty

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 men."

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” take 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.

· Phall Phrolic: A Halloween party with prizes for best costumes and hors d'oeuvres.
· Christmas Party: with prizes for the hors d'oeuvres and desserts. A visit from Santa and caroling.
· Spring Cotillion and Pool Party

*Annual Meeting at Frankie and Johnny’s Restaurant. This includes a visit from the Crescent City Buzzards.

May the PPP last another hundred years! [Huzzah!]




An even briefer history of the Phunny Phorty Phellows


Compiled by R. Pustanio
mardigrasparadeschedule.com

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 Krewe du Vieux).

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 streetcar.

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.

Mardi Gras 2015 will mark the 34th ride that the Phellows have kept up this Mardi Gras tradition. Phellows and revelers traditionally board at the RTA streetcar barn, located on Willow street near S. Carrollton, at 6:30 p.m. on Twelfth Night, Tuesday, January 6th, 2015(ROUTE). 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 uptown to the Lee Circle turnaround and then back to the barn. You can’t miss the streetcar, it’s the one with the really noisy party inside and a big sign hanging from it reading: “It’s Carnival Time!”

All this revelry is in keeping with the motto printed on a Phunny Phorty Phellows 1896 bulletin:

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men!”

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