The Elks Mardi Gras Parade 1946

Mardi Gras of 1946 was one to remember, being the first to be held after a five year dry streak. With World War II finished, and hundreds of people finally returning home, this celebration became one of the best there’s ever been.

Howard, Coleman. Elks Krewe of Orleanians Parade Float “Fisherman’s Dream” on Canal Street. 1960. Tulane University Digital Library.

The Krewe parades this year were sponsored by “The Elks Krewe Of New Orleanians”. Originally, there was supposed to be a 50 float limit, first come, first served. Supplies were still in low stock, and the Krewe wouldn’t be able to provide for an excess of trucks caused by additional entries. The organizers quickly had to change to a drawing; too many people wanted to be a part of the parade. The drawing was held Tuesday at 8pm at 705 Common Street, and a contest was scheduled, with 12 prizes being put aside for the 12 most outstanding floats.

The Elks Parade, interestingly enough, had a tradition of choosing kids to lead the krewe each year. In 1946, they partnered with the “Protestant Orphans’ Home” where “Francis Ackerman” — a 15 year old —was picked to be the king of the parade this year. He was fitted with satin thighs and a kingly robe.

On Friday afternoon at 12:30pm, the executive committee of the “Krewe of Orleanians” met to discuss the parade and establish the roles for the parade. “Walter Williams” was established as co-captain of the parade and “Salvidore Graziano” as treasurer.

William , Russell. Bunk Johnson Band. Tulane University Digital Library. Hogan Jazz Archive, Special Collections, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Tulane University, 1946.

When the parade finally started, it went off with a bang. Floats of 20 people on beautiful trucks drove through New Orleans, drawing crowds and inspiring revelry. There was an account of a young, 25-year-old woman named “Mrs. John D Leblanc” being injured on 519 Soniat Street. She reportedly suffered a compound fracture of the right leg and a scrap laceration, due to getting caught under the wheel of a truck trailer alongside her husband. Both were quickly taken to the hospital to be treated. 

The Wednesday after the parade became the moment everyone was waiting for, as the winners for the best floats were announced. Top three floats were “Spirit of Bataan”, “Easter Bunnies”, and “Indian Village”. These parades with trucks later became the standard for parades over the years — which we can all see now if you ever go to Mardi Gras.

Written By: Alex Armstrong

Originally Published: December 15th, 2020 || Last Updated: February 3rd, 2023

A part of Doc Studio’s History of the New Orleans Landscape Collection


  • “Carnival Parade Registration Set,” Times-Picayune, February 2, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current.
  • “Elks Club Offers Data On Parade,” Times-Picayune, February 5, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Elks Krewe Limit in Parade Is Set,” Times-Picayune, February 13, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Elks Krewes Line Up For Parade Drawing,” Times-Picayune, February 19, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Elks Sponsored Krewe Parades,” Times-Picayune, March 6, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Krewe Leaders to Meet Friday,” Times-Picayune, January 31, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Orleanian Float Winners Listed,” Times-Picayune, March 7, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Registrations Set of Elks Krewe,” Times-Picayune, January 17, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current
  • “Woman on Truck Injured In Fall,” Times-Picayune, March 6, 1946, Access World News – Historical and Current

Secondary Source:

  • Mitchell, Reid. “11 New Orleanians .” Essay. In All on a Mardi Gras Day, 165–77. Cambridge, MA: Havard University Press, 1995.

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