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Loyola alumni reinvigorate Krewe of Freret for New Orleans Mardi Gras

Loyola press release - February 18, 2014

A group of seven young Loyola University New Orleans graduates united in their passion to preserve and enhance Mardi Gras in New Orleans are debuting a new parading group under an old name—the Krewe of Freret—a group that had been absent for 20 years. On Saturday, Feb. 22 the group will debut its inaugural parade as the re-invented Krewe of Freret on the Uptown route following the Krewe of Pontchartrain and Krewe of Choctaw, which roll at 1 p.m.

In late 2011, the Krewe of Freret was re-established by the Loyola alumni, including Brendan Ryan ‘10, Bobby Hjortsberg ‘04, J.D. ‘07, Eugenio Hernandez ‘07, Loyola student Dylan Hoon, Douglas Caire ‘07, Hugo Miller ‘06 and Greg Rhoades ‘06. Further supporting the Loyola connection for the krewe, the Loyola dance team is also marching in the parade.

“We had witnessed the majesty and merriment of Mardi Gras during our time at Loyola, and we had ideas that we wanted to see implemented immediately in Carnival,” said Ryan, the new Krewe of Freret founder.

Central to those new ideas are a dedication to local craftsmen and support for the renaissance of a community where they spent so much time in college—the Freret Street corridor. To that end, the krewe is encouraging a move away from the disposable plastic throws that are abundant during Carnival season to more quality items made in New Orleans. The group is working with IHeartLouisiana.com to source custom Freret beads, hair clips, magnets, rings and more. The krewe even worked with the Freret Entrepreneur Art Club, a group of 7- to 15-year-olds from the Freret Neighborhood Center, to create nearly 200 custom masks. In return, the krewe will donate art supplies for joint mask decorating events.

“While it’s perceived as expensive and a serious transition to totally remove the plentiful plastic throws, we are moving in a positive direction by being a proving ground for krewes to start making that important change. You'll see a steady stream of custom, made-in-the-USA doubloons and thousands of hand decorated signature masks raining from the fingertips of our riders,” said Rhoades, the Krewe of Freret captain.

“We are elated to be a small part of producing the greatest free show on Earth,” said Hjortsberg, co-captain of the Krewe of Freret. “We will continue cultivating ideas from our riding members and the Freret community to mold a more modern and varied approach to Carnival.”

The university will also host its second annual Mardi Gras Instagram Contest this year to capture on social media the Krewe of Freret and Krewe of Tucks (scheduled for Saturday, March 1 at noon) parades—both founded by Loyola graduates. Follow @Loyola_NOLA on Instagram and tag photos from either parade by using the hashtag #LOYNOMG14 for a chance to win two tickets to the All Alumni Cocktail Reception Saturday, June 21 or free entry for two to the Senior Crawfish Boil Friday, May 9. One winner for the contest will be chosen at random Wednesday, March 5.