Carnival is coming! With only a few weeks before the big parades roll, krewes are releasing the finer points of the festivities. Today (1.26), Bacchus and Zulu announced some of the special guests joining their processions.
Dr. Norman C. Francis will serve as the Grand Marshall of Zulu. Francis has been President of Xavier University since 1968, but his bonafides extend far beyond academia. Francis worked to integrate federal agencies in the fifties and sixties. He played an active role in finding housing for the Freedom Riders. In 2006, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"I've known the Zulus for 65 years," Francis said. "I saw my first parade in 1949, when I was an 18-year-old student at Xavier. That was the year Louis Armstrong reigned as king and I saw him on the barge that carried him up the old Basin Canal, right near where Xavier is."
Zulu rolls Mardi Gras Day.
Bacchus also announced some luminaries today. At a press conference today, krewe officials announced that four Indy Car drivers and an actual racer will also join the parade. Racers James Hinchcliffe, Carlos Munoz, Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam will ride instead of drive.
The decision was inspired by Verizon Indy Car Racing’s foray into Louisiana. The series will make their debut with a race at the NOLA Motor Sports Park this April.
"When we went to IndyCar to talk about having the first-ever Grand Prix of Louisiana here, one of the things we wanted to do was show them why we are different from every other race on their schedule, and this partnership with Bacchus is a big part of that," said Kristen Engeron, president of NOLA Motorsports Park & the NOLA Motor Host Committee.
Actor and funny man John C. Reilly is already slated to reign as King. The performer boasts an impressive career that includes comedy, dance, and song in addition to over fifty films. He notched an awards trifecta, receiving nominations for a Tony, a Grammy, and an Oscar. Reilly might have some familiarity with Bacchus; frequent collaborator Will Ferrell was Bacchus XLIV.
Bacchus will roll on Sunday, February 15, 2015. The massive parade will feature over 30 floats and over 30 bands