New Orleans Mardi Gras parades date back to 1857. Many people attend Mardi Gras. Fewer people participate as members of a krewe, and still fewer work year-round as artists and float builders. My cousin McKinley "Mackie" J. Cantrell, III was one of the artists and builders who worked full-time to bring Mardi Gras to life. A third-generation float builder, Mackie's grandfather began building floats during the Great Depression. By the mid-70s, "Big Mac" Cantrell had his own company, called McKinley J. Cantrell and Son and was captain of his own parade, the Krewe of Mardi Gras. Cantrell Floats lives on today, but Mackie died suddenly two days after Christmas in 2021. He was forty-seven. He was more of a brother to me, a mentor, who took me on to work with him for an entire year of Carnival preparation in 2011-12. This book is a telling of all my great memories of Mackie. It is a rare glimpse into New Orleans life from an artist's perspective. As Mackie would say, "It's a true story, stab-ah."
Loved it! 😍
I didn't know Mackie, but I felt like I did through Gregory's storytelling.
The Cantrell family has a long history with Madris Gras, dating back to the Great Depression. Their legacy is quite impressive. In The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir, Gregory Fischer shares fond memories and photos of Mackie Cantrell, his cousin - best friend - and honorary brother.
Every page is a tribute to the man Gregory lost just two short days after Christmas 2021. If you ever have lost someone, you know the pain Mackie's friends and family have experienced and probably are still experiencing. I didn't know Mackie, but I felt like I did through Gregory's storytelling.
Mackie was a Renaissance man, a person with many talents or areas of knowledge. He was an athlete in high school (football and wrestling), an artist, a musician, singer, songwriter, and loved books. His favorite was The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. He could snowboard, rode a wakeboard like a pro, and welder. His artistic ability amazed me. I was blown away by the Flintstone vehicle. I could not fathom how in the world he created it. Just WOW!
I've been to New Orleans, but I have not enjoyed the thrill of the Carnival Ball. I have seen photographs and news reports on the celebration but never really thought about the time it takes to bring a design to life or the toll it takes on a person's body to create these elaborate floats and props. At Mackie's passing, he made hundreds of floats and props. From the photos, he loved every moment he spent sweating over constructing and final touch-ups.
Unfortunately, all parades were canceled in 2021 due to covid. Gregory stated Mackie worried about what 2022 would look like. Would they come back? Mackie's work will be cherished and admired for years to come. His presence will be felt every year during Mardi Gras. And Mackie will be close to those in spirit—never far from Gregory's thoughts.
Besides learning much about Mackie, I learned a few things about Mardi Gras floats. One, the first float rolled out in 1857. And two, the floats have a port-a-potty on them. Fascinating!
I want to end my review with parting words...
"I'm here for you. Come around anytime. You know where to find me."
The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir by Gregory Fischer tells the story of his cousin, McKinley 'Mackie' J. Cantrell, III, whose grandfather was a third-generation float builder. His grandfather had his own company and was captain of his own parade, Krewe of Mardi Gras. After the death of his cousin two days after Christmas in 2021, the author suffered a devastating loss and in this book, he shares memories of Mackie, a cousin who was like a brother to him, exploring his central role in bringing to life the Mardi Gras culture in New Orleans. As readers follow this enthralling tale, they get to know a man with many talents — an innovator, an athlete, a singer, an artist, and a songwriter, and builder. But what is most fascinating is the long history of Mardi Gras parades in the family, dating back to the period of the depression. In the memoir, the author presents a brother and friend, a man that readers will love to meet.
Gregory Fischer’s memories of his cousin are written in lush prose and in a tone that is captivating. This memoir is a wonderful tribute to a man whose life inspired joy in the community and the threads that bound him to that community are cleverly communicated in this spellbinding story. The narrative is littered with historical hints, including the Great Depression and the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic, and while it is a story of the author’s cousin, it is also a powerful tribute to the life and pulse of the author’s community. The themes of family, love, innovation, friendship, adventure, death, and grief are supremely developed in this tale. The Mardi Gras culture in the author’s community becomes a central element in the narrative. Gregory Fischer is a great storyteller with the extraordinary ability to write about human emotion in detail. The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir will strike strong chords in readers who have loved and lost while offering immense entertainment to those who adore parades. It is rich in human emotion, brilliantly capturing the sense of loss while paying tribute to a man that lived with purpose. This book is a wonderful memoir with a fully drawn hero who will inspire creativity in readers.
Gregory L. Fischer, former editor of the Gonzales Weekly Citizen, The Donaldsonville Chief, and the Plaquemine Post-South newspapers in south Louisiana and contributor to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, will release The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir on June 14.
In a news release, Make It Write Publishing announced the book in hardcover format complete with full-color illustrations. The title will be distributed worldwide by IngramSpark.
The book is a memoir written about Fischer's cousin, McKinley “Mackie” J. Cantrell III, who was one of the artists who worked full-time to bring New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras to life. A third-generation sculptor and float builder, Mackie died from a heart attack in 2021 at age 47.
It is available now in black and white paperback format (ISBN 9780578381794). An ebook format (ISBN 9798985925012) will also be made available on June 14.
Fischer is currently studying professional copyediting at NYU’s School of Professional Studies and is the owner of Make It Write in Baton Rouge, where he lives with his wife and stepchildren.
Additional photos may be found on Instagram @themayorofmardigras.
Praise for The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir
“The Cantrell family has a long history with Mardi Gras, dating back to the Great Depression. Their legacy is quite impressive. In The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir, Gregory Fischer shares fond memories and photos of Mackie Cantrell, his cousin - best friend - and honorary brother.
“Every page is a tribute to the man Gregory lost just two short days after Christmas 2021. If you have ever lost someone, you know the pain Mackie’s friends and family have experienced and are probably still experiencing. I didn’t know Mackie, but I felt like I did through Gregory’s storytelling.” —Kameron Brook, Reedsy Discovery
“I laughed and cried through the whole book. I cried so hard at times I couldn’t even see what I was reading. I had to stop a moment. I had quite a few of those moments. Couldn’t put it down. I don’t think there is a word perfect enough to describe how I felt about reading things about my nephew, Mackie. Felt like he was sitting next to me the entire time, just incredible!” —Wanda Bryan, Amazon review
The annual summer meeting of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council scheduled for July 28 has been moved to August 11. Parading krewe captains are hoping that news about the possible restoration of parade routes to their traditional pre-pandemic configurations will be discussed.
The popular Backstreet Cultural Museum, which was damaged by Hurricane Ida, has reopened at a new location at 1531 St. Philip Street in Tremé.
Rex and the City of New Orleans received wonderful new publicity with the discovery and recent showing at the Louisiana State Museum of a film of the 1898 Rex parade. The New York Times and Smithsonian magazine provided major coverage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65DpZ_0nByE
The Krewe of Adonis, which paraded on the West Bank through Orleans and Jefferson Parishes since 1999, appears to be a goner.
The Krewe of Morpheus now owns its entire fleet of 20 floats and has taken out a ten-year lease on a den.
2023 is big year for anniversaries—Thoth 75, Cleopatra 50, Argus 50, Isis 50, Rascals 40, Selene 25. The non-parading Krewe of Janus celebrates its 75th anniversary.
The Krewes for Karnival's First Responders event is back after a two-year hiatus! The event, which raises much needed funds to purchase equipment for NOPD, NOFD, and EMS, will take place on Thursday, September 15 from 7-10 PM at Mardi Gras World. Please visit the Krewes for Karnival's First Responders Facebook page (@KrewesForKarnival) for more information.
Look for new captains for Oshun and Alla.
The new captain of the Krewe of Alla reports: “The krewe is busy planning a thank you celebration for former captain and current captain emeritus, John Beninate Jr.. The event is scheduled for Thursday, September 8, from 6-8 PM in the Draught Room at Faubourg Brewery, and is open to members of the krewe as well as anyone from the Mardi Gras community who would like to share in the chance to recognize John for his decades of service and dedication to ALLA.”
Endymion will return to the Convention Center for its 2023 Extravaganza.
Royal Artists, which builds parades for Rex, d’Etat, Chaos, and Proteus, along with several Mobile krewes, reports: “Look for Babylon to come out strong with the first full parade designed and decorated by Royal Artists. Knights of Babylon will feature several rebuilt permanent floats and innovative lighting.”
Carnival lost one of its most celebrated costume designers with the death of Anthony Colombo last Friday.
The Knights of Momus are publishing a coffee table book for members-only, celebrating their 150th anniversary.
Float builder Mackie Cantrell, who passed away last December, is the subject of a new book by his friend Gregory Fischer. Entitled The Mayor of Mardi Gras, it is available from email@example.com
On the Northshore
The Krewe of Poseidon plans to parade on Saturday, February 4, 2023, with more than 850 members and 28 floats, its largest ever. The Coronation Ball is Saturday, July 23, 2022, at the Castine Center. The 2023 Royalty and Theme will be announced during the tableau.
Official Slidell Parade Schedule - February
Saturday, 4 Krewe of Poseidon, 6 PM
Sunday, 5 Krewe of Antheia
Saturday, 11 Krewe De Paws of Olde Towne, 10 AM in Olde Towne
Mystic Krewe of Titans, 6:30 PM
Sunday, 12 Krewe of Dionysus, 1 PM
Friday, 17 Krewe of Selene, 6:30 PM
The new Krewe of Antheia plans to parade in Slidell on February 5. (See press release below.)
The Krewe of Perseus may attempt a comeback parade in 2023. Stay Tuned.
The Mystic Krewe of Olympia has increased its membership by more than 100 since last year, added five more floats to its parade, and will add more bands and marching groups.
Jefferson Parish News
Captain and float builder Mac Cantrell reports, “The Krewe of Kings will stage an Oktoberfest parade on Saturday, October 1, in Harahan.
The new Krewe of Caerus hopes to mount a parade in Metairie next year.
It is uncertain if Pandora will return.
The Krewe of Isis in Kenner is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Bal Masque and parade in 2023. The theme is Isis is Good as Gold. Their first Coronation Ball will be staged on Saturday, September 24, where the king and queen will be introduced.
The Elks Jeffersonians will honor WWII veteran, Mr. Ceryle Nelson, as Grand Marshal again. Mr. Nelson will be 101 on July 25. The club’s monthly meetings have produced a few more truck floats than last year, and the krewe hopes to increase in size by the time of Mardi Gras.
KREWES’ NEWS SUPPLIED TO THE MARDI GRAS GUIDE
KREWE OF IRIS
As we enter this season we are pleased to announce our largest membership ever at over 3,600 members.
Our 2023 Royalty will be announced at our Coronation ball that will be held on Saturday, October 22, on the Louis Armstrong Riverboat.
We are proud to be having a very active philanthropic season working with Ochsner for Stroke Prevention, the American Cancer Society, the Salvation Army, Dress for Success, Susan G. Komen for Breast Cancer Awareness, and the American Heart Association to name a few.
Our 2023 parade theme will be announced to the public after our 106th Ball Masque held at the Hilton Riverside on Saturday, January 28.
MYSTICAL ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Coming off its inaugural ride with the Spartan Society in February, the Mystical Order of the Phoenix continues to Rise with strong membership numbers and community involvement. MOOTP Membership currently stands at 400 Riding Members and 65 Non-Riding members. This strong showing is reflected in the group’s commitment to quality and the traditions of Mardi Gras from its unique and useful Throws to its impactful charitable efforts.
Phoenix members are working to raise funds, supplies, and awareness for Hotel Hope, a shelter for homeless women and their families. A successful slipper and robe drive was just completed and Phoenix members will participate in a work day to help spruce-up the facility in October.
In November, MOOTP will welcome its Phoenix III as Shelby Elizabeth Saak “ascends” at a special luncheon.
Phoenix has also announced its 2022-23 “Flames of the Future” Scholarship Application guidelines, which can be found at https://mootp.org/flames/
Phoenix will hold its inaugural Phoenix Fete – A Mystical Masquerade on January 7, 2023, at the Grand Oaks Mansion. MOOTP looks forward to putting on an even bigger and better parade in 2023 and will include the Spartan Society signature horse-riding group and Keepers of the Flame again in 2023. The number of horse-riders continues
to grow and leads off the Phoenix royalty float with special, signature
throws handed out by both male and female riders.
The ladies of Phoenix are also working on some other fun Throws that they can’t wait to share with the crowds during the Spartan Society Parade on February 11, 2023.
Non-Riding membership remains open. Anyone interested can visit the website at https://mootp.org/membership. *Note: non-riding members have first choice to upgrade to riding members when space becomes available.
KREWE OF ANTHEIA
Founded in March 2022, the Krewe of Antheia is set to debut on the streets of Slidell in 2023. The Krewe can best be defined as a sisterhood of world changers. An all-women Krewe, its positive and loving members are embracing the wonderful women of Slidell with open arms. As the Goddess of flowers, swamps, bayous, and friendship, Antheia is a perfect fit for the Slidell community. The Krewe was founded by Taylor Frisard (President), Kathy Lowrey (Vice President), Buffie Singletary (Treasurer), and Amy Thomas (Secretary). For their inaugural ride, the ladies will parade on February 5, following the Krewe of Dionysus. Parade goers can expect to catch the coveted Krewe of Antheia
signature, hand-decorated headbands that will be thrown. The Krewe’s membership is approximately 150 riders and growing. Their inaugural Goddess I will be presented at a Coronation Ball to be held on January 7 at the Harbor Center.
The ladies of Antheia recently enjoyed a Wine Down Wednesday social at the Wine Market and will be participating in two upcoming blood drives.
For more information about the organization or to find out about upcoming events, interested parties may “Like” and “Follow” the Krewe of Antheia Facebook page or email AntheiaKrewe@gmail.com.
KREWE OF SYMPHONY
This year the Krewe of Symphony is excited to present another busy year under the theme A Salute to Music Legends, and we have some exciting news to share. We are growing and have expanded our membership since our inaugural parade. Membership is still open if any men in the Greater New Orleans area are looking for a fresh, energetic, and hip Krewe to join.
This year we will be hosting our annual summer Coronation just as we did last year. In addition, the Krewe will be crowning our incoming King Symphony called "Thee King Symphony VI" and presenting our Symphony Royalty. Thee King Symphony VI this year will be our long-standing and dedicated member Carl Alondo Johnson Jr., who has served as recording secretary on the Board of Directors since our reincorporation. During this event, we will also reveal who will reign as "Thee Queen Symphony VI," which is still a secret, and present four new Dukes of Symphony for a total of six Dukes. The event will occur on Sunday, July 31, 2022, at The Four Columns, located at 3711 Westbank Expressway, Harvey, LA, promptly at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $35, and it is open to the public. Guests can purchase tickets at www.kreweofsymphony.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
This year the brothers of Symphony will also expand our philanthropic efforts to include two new community initiatives. Along with our annual Feed the Homeless event on November 26, we have added a back-to-school giveaway on August 6, 2022, where the Krewe will give away school supplies for children as they prepare to return to the classroom. Additionally, we will be collecting supplies at the annual coronation, so anyone willing to donate can bring supplies with them to the July 31 event. We ask guests to donate backpacks, paper, pencils, highlighters, school glue, etc. In addition to that initiative, this year, the reigning King and Queen Symphony VI will start a holiday initiative with a turkey giveaway planned for November (date TBD) leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Our annual ball tradition will continue on Twelfth Night at the Fillmore New Orleans, on January 6, 2023. We will present our beautiful Mardi Gras costumes leading to our main parade on Friday, February 10, 2023. Tickets go on sale on October 1. Guest can enjoy all the glamour, splendor, pomp, and circumstance of Mardi Gras and kick the season into high gear. www.kreweofsymphony.org
CULINARY QUEENS OF NEW ORLEANS TO REVEAL 2023 KING AND QUEEN (TONIGHT)
New Orleans, LA - All media affiliates are invited to Royal Reveal Mixer 2022 hosted by the Culinary Queens of New Orleans. The Culinary Queens of New Orleans will formally reveal the identity of King TCQNO II and Queen TCQNO II on Friday, July 22, 2022 at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. The mixer begins at 7pm, the formal presentation begins at 8pm. The Culinary Queens of New Orleans, also known as the Krewe of TCQNO, is the city’s first and only Mardi Gras parade krewe dedicated to honoring women who own culinary businesses and brands. Krewe Captain Akasia Lee-Nicholas is the founder of the Culinary Queens of New Orleans. The 2022 Royal Reveal will be hosted by renowned food blogger Chasity Pugh, @letdatgirleat and will feature DJ Soul, the Zulu Tramps and Da Truth Brass Band. (Performances at 9pm). The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is located at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., NOLA 70113. For more information, call 504-473-4602.
Author Gregory Fischer, Jr., @ EBR WED. at 7PM: Greg Fischer, a local writer and editor, will discuss his new nonfiction book, The Mayor of Mardi Gras, at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21 at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.
This event is free of charge and open to the public. There is no registration.
The book focuses on Fischer’s cousin, McKinley "Mackie" J. Cantrell III, one of the full-time artists and builders who worked to bring Mardi Gras to life. A third-generation float builder, Mackie's grandfather began building floats during the Great Depression.
By the mid-70s, "Big Mac" Cantrell had his own company, called McKinley J. Cantrell and Son and was captain of his own parade, the Krewe of Mardi Gras.
Cantrell Floats lives on today, but Mackie died suddenly two days after Christmas in 2021. He was 47.
“He was more of a brother to me, a mentor, who took me on to work with him for an entire year of Carnival preparation in 2011-12,” Fischer said. “This book is a telling of all my great memories of Mackie.”
He also says the book is a rare glimpse into New Orleans life from an artist's perspective.
Greg Fischer is a former editor-in-chief of the Weekly Citizen in Gonzales, The Chief in Donaldsonville, and the Post-South in Plaquemine. He is a contributor to The New Orleans Times-Picayune. He holds bachelor degrees in creative writing and journalism from Louisiana State University. He attended graduate school for Professional Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Gambit creative writing journal for students. He is currently studying professional copy editing at New York University's School of Professional Studies. He owns Make It Write, a publishing services company in Baton Rouge.
For more information regarding this presentation, contact Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the library, at 504-889-8143 or email@example.com.