The Red Beans Parade
From Plate to Parade: The Red Beans and Rice Krewe Turns Beans into Art
What inspires a group of grown adults to glue beans on their clothes and strut down the street? Like everyone else who has visited New Orleans, Devin Meyers fell under the city’s spell. Meyers first created a bean-adorned costume for Halloween in 2007. “I was looking for a good Halloween costume idea and I wanted to link it to New Orleans on a cultural level,” he said. With the city’s devotion to red beans and rice in mind, and inspired by the meticulous detail of the Mardi Gras Indian suits, an idea was born. Meyers spent over 40 hours completing his first outfit and it was wildly popular with the Halloween crowds he encountered around town.
They “Know What It Beans”
Thus inspired, Meyers started the Krewe of Red Beans in 2008. Incorporating some of the elements of a second line and the Mardi Gras Indian tribes, it is a walking parade which takes place – naturally – on a Monday. Monday has traditionally been the day New Orleanians cook red beans and rice, so Lundi Gras was a natural fit. The first parade in 2009 consisted of about 20 members, but today it boasts about four times as many.
We Know Where You Got Those Shoes!
It’s a loose group of natives and recent arrivals, and the krewe’s philosophy is simple. It’s about meeting and socializing with other creative types while celebrating New Orleans’ quirky culture. Members – known as “beaners” – meet on Monday nights to work on their costumes, have a drink, and eat red beans. The elaborate costumes are a point of pride to the group.
Each member makes his or her own costume, and although members do work on their costumes individually at home, the communal costume-making sessions are an important part of the group dynamic. This practice resembles that of the Mardi Gras Indians, who also often work in groups, though the Red Beans Krewe favors tongue-in-cheek themes, with a “Beanior Citizen,” “Audrey BeanBurn,” and “Bean-once Knowles” having marched in past parades.
Riding “Red Beans & Ricely”
One of the most anticipated elements of the parade is the Beanmobile that leads the procession. The 2015 design for the Volkswagen Thing featured a likeness of New Orleans’ own Louis Armstrong – a lifelong fan of red beans and rice – and members spent weeks painstakingly filling in the design, bean by bean. The result was nothing short of amazing – a mobile piece of folk art, a labor of love, and a tribute to a city that celebrates its culture through cuisine – and Carnival parades. It’s well worth a trip to Bywater to join the parade at 2 p.m. at the corner of Port and Royal streets, or anywhere along the route through the Marigny and Treme to see the yearly redesigned Beanmobile and for a close-up view of the cleverly costumed marchers announcing their arrival with the chant, “Red Beans comin’!”
This year, in celebration of the 10th Red Bean Parade, you can watch not one, but two Lundi Gras bean Parades. The new Dead Beans Parade will launch from Bayou St. John at 2pm on Lundi Gras day and meander through mid-city, arriving to meet the Red Beans Parade in Treme.