Krewe of Jefferson

The Krewe of Jefferson truck parade rolled Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Metairie for the final time. The parade, which follows the Krewe of Argus and the Elks Krewe of Jeffersonians, featured 2,000 riders on 45 trucks. (Staff photo by Scott Threlkeld, | The Times-Picayune)

After 51 years, the Krewe of Jefferson truck parade will no longer roll in Metairie on Mardi Gras because of a lack of participation, krewe officials announced this week.?

The Krewe of Jefferson, the longest-rolling truck parade in Jefferson Parish, was founded in 1972.?

Michael Bendetto, who has been captain of the Krewe of Jefferson since just after Hurricane Katrina, described the krewe as a "family" where everyone, from in-laws to grandparents, participated. But over time that participation has waned, particularly over the last five years with the pandemic and Hurricane Ida.

Many members who lived in LaPlace, Destrehan and other places that were hit hard by the storm were unable to devote the months of prep work required for truck floats, he said.??

"It was good while it lasted but I guess it's going to come to an end ... it seemed like we were always fighting some kind of battle," Bendetto said. "Over the last couple years it was like, 'Maybe it's time.' "

Running along the Veterans Boulevard route, the parade has followed the Krewe of Elks-Jeffersonians on Mardi Gras Day and ends festivities for Carnival season in Jefferson Parish.

Meanwhile three other groups have applied for permits to hold parades next season, according to Jefferson Parish spokesperson Gretchen Hirt. Hirt did not immediately have information on those prospective krewes.

Hirt said that over the last six years Jefferson Parish has lost three parades — Isis, Pandora and Adonis — but gained four others — Madhatters, Symphony, Kings and Culinary Queens.

Jefferson Parish Council member Jennifer Van Vrancken said several new krewes over the last few years indicate growing interest on the West Bank, including Culinary Queens of Greater New Orleans, a Black women-led krewe.?

"Overall, Carnival in Jefferson is extremely healthy and we're seeing good signs of continued growth and change," she said. "I predict it's going to be a banner year in Jefferson Parish."

She noted that one of the newer Krewes, the Madhatters, signed a contract with Kern Studios for floats, a rarity for Jefferson Parish.

Arthur Hardy, a Mardi Gras historian, told Fox 8 that while the news of the Krewe of Jefferson's departure?is perhaps an expected result of financial stress, it doesn't spell the end of Mardi Gras in Jefferson Parish.

“When the economy is tough, it’s the first thing to go," he said in an interview. "And the other part of that is that there’s never been more choices if you have the means. So, I’m sorry to see them go, but it in no way indicates that Mardi Gras is in trouble.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the number of parades that have been canceled in Jefferson Parish in the last six years.