Most people in New Orleans are familiar with the all-female krewes that have their own parades or the various dance groups that march in several parades throughout the season, but not nearly as many are aware of the walking groups that parade through the French Quarter the Friday afternoon before Fat Tuesday…the best Friday of the year.
The Prima Donna Marching Club has been making its mark on New Orleans since 2009, and the group is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Decked out in hand-beaded, theme inspired bustiers created by each member and fabulous head-pieces designed by Queens Sue Capitelli and Debbie Evans, the Prima Donnas bring their special kind of style to Mardi Gras.
With almost 190 members this year, the Prima Donnas will begin their day at 10:00, when Saks Fifth Avenue at Canal Place introduces the group and hosts a mimosa party. It’s a bit of a “warm up parade”, where onlookers can get an up-close look at group members’ bustiers and will likely be given beads or bracelets. From Saks, the group makes its way deeper into the French Quarter, where brunch is served at the Court of Two Sisters. And then, it’s showtime!
The Grand Promenade begins at 1:00 at the Bourbon Street entrance of the Court of Two Sisters. Escorted by the Sugar Daddies, the ladies stroll through the streets, handing out beads, trinkets, and stickers, and showing off their beautiful, wearable works of art. After strolling from Bourbon Street to St. Peters, Royal, and Bienville, the Prima Donnas finish their walk at the Tropical Isle at 721 Bourbon, where they will take over the balcony from 2:00-5:00. It is here that spectators have the opportunity to catch one of the Prima Donnas signature throws…a hand-beaded bra. Much like a Nyx’s purse or a Muses’ shoe, Prima Donnas spend hours carefully crafting these sparkly beauties. Going home with a beaded bra is a great way end a beautiful Friday in the French Quarter…or even a rainy one.
*As an added bonus this year, the Prima Donnas will be accompanied by Les Rogers, a group of musicians who began their careers playing at cafes in France in 2012. Their first international experience was Mardi Gras 2013, when they performed in the streets then joined the Prima Donnas parade. This will be their first time back with the Prima Donnas, and they will be entertaining the group with their mix of swing, second line funk, Creole, and French music. They will also be playing in various parades, including Rex on Mardi Gras Day.