Making Mardi Gras More Accessible at Krewe of King Arthur
Being a member of the Krewe of King Arthur enables you to ride in one of the largest and most diverse Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans. Since its beginning, the Krewe of King Arthur has been known for welcoming people of all backgrounds and ethnicities, including people with disabilities.
For people with disabilities, riding in a parade may not seem like an obvious way to participate in Mardi Gras as the crowds may be intimidating. However, Dr. Rose Angelocci, a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) at HDC, may change your mind. Dr. Angelocci, who is blind, has been riding in the Krewe of King Arthur since 2015 with her entire family. She was introduced to the Krewe by her friend Mary Leblanc, a long-time member and former Queen, who is visually impaired. Dr. Angelocci wants to spread the word to people with disabilities that riding in a parade can be considered a wonderful way to enjoy Mardi Gras. She points out that there are many other Mardi Gras Krewes that have riders with disabilities and the Krewe of King Arthur is just one example.
With over 2000 members, the Krewe of King Arthur has the distinction in New Orleans as being the sixth largest Krewe overall and the second largest co-ed Krewe. Started in 1977 on the Westbank of New Orleans, the Krewe of King Arthur now follows the New Orleans Uptown route. According to their website, this Krewe was founded on the principles of diversity, inclusion, equality and acceptance. Membership fees are kept to a minimum in order to attract members from all backgrounds. In fact, the Krewe is named after King Arthur who’s “Round Table” was deliberately designed so that everyone gathered had equal status.
According to Dr. Angelocci, the Krewe of King Arthur is indeed very accepting of riders’ diverse needs. For example, according to Mary Leblanc, one of the most requested accommodations is to use steps instead of ladders to access the floats. The Krewe has custom steps built for floats upon request. They also modify floats by adding platforms, reinforcements and security straps for riders who use wheelchairs.
One of the main concerns of participating in Mardi Gras for those with disabilities – and even those without – is safety. Watching the parade from street level, there is always the chance of being hit with a throw such as a set of beads or being trampled by a crowd. Dr. Angelocci says that riding in a float above the spectators offers some degree of protection from the mayhem on the ground. However, even on a float there remains some risk of injury. She recommends taking some additional precautions such as wearing protective gear like a hat and glasses. She also recommends bringing a stool to sit down on should one need a rest from the festivities.
Due to its overwhelming popularity, the Krewe of King Arthur’s membership for the 2022 Mardi Gras season has been closed since June 2021. But you can still visit their website for more information and can contact them to be considered for membership next year. Membership for next year will open the day after Mardi Gras and the early bird rate ends on April 15. This year’s parade will be exceptional as it marks its 45th year and will feature royalty from both last year and this year. HDC is looking forward to watching the Krewe of King Arthur parade this year on their Uptown route.
About Dr. Rose Angelocci
Rose Angelocci, Ph.D., CWIC is a Community Work Incentives Coordinator (CWIC) with the Human Development Center’s WSC WIPA program.