Our Carnival Heritage: The Formation of Zulu #carnival2013#nola#mardigras#parade#zulu
In 1909, a unique krewe began by doing what no others had done; satirizing Rex himself. The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club began as a group of benevolent aid societies and various marching clubs and groups. Benevolent aid societies were formed in the New Orleans Black community as a kind of insurance for the community, generally covering emergency needs and funeral costs. The city itself is divided into separate 'wards', with each ward having its own Carnival groups. One of these groups was called The Tramps, who had been marching on Mardi Gras since 1901. In 1909, members of The Tramps attended the Temple Theatre in the Knights of Pythias building in the 200 block of Loyola Ave. There, they saw a skit by the vaudeville act The Smart Set entitled "There Never Was and Never Will Be a King Like Me," about the Zulu Tribe. After the performance, The Tramps walked to a saloon at the corner of N. Rampart & Perdido, picking up friends and members of the benevolent aid societies. They met in a backroom of that saloon and emerged as the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Society. Their first march as The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club proclaimed William Story as the first Zulu King. Whites and blacks have marched together in Zulu since the early days, which was illegal during segregation. To allow everyone to ride in anonymity every member rode adorned in 'blackface' makeup, a tradition that continues to this day. King Zulu the First wore a lard can crown and carried a banana stalk sceptre, with the members attired in rags and tatters. Mocking Rex's arrival on the river, King Zulu arrived on an oyster lugger at the terminus of a bayou in the area now occupied by the Greyhound Bus Station. The famed coconuts first appeared in 1910 in their natural hairy state. It was another few years until a sign painter named Lloyd Lucas would scrape and paint the coconuts, to create the highly-collectible handcrafted coconuts seen today.