The Zulu Club:
In 1909, an African-American neighborhood club, the Tramps, merged with some other local groups such as The Benevolent Aid Society, and became Zulu. They later incorporated into The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Unpopular in the 1960's because of their blackface garb, the club held true to its roots and is now one of the most popular and unique parades of the season. Zulu is active in the community, donating time and money to such causes as Southern University's Scholarship Fund and the Adopt-A-School Program. Its choir, The Zulu Ensemble, performs all over the city, including at the Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The first parades were considered by some to parody of Rex, King of Carnival. How far we have come! These days, the king and queen of Zulu arrive in the city on Lundi Gras, the Monday before Fat Tuesday on a Mississippi River barge, and meet Rex at the Riverwalk. On Mardi Gras day, "Mr. Big Stuff" and "The Witch Doctor" are two of the main characters, in addition of course to the King. Zulu is a very open organization, and many of its riders are not African-American. All the riders wear blackface and grass skirts, celebrating the legendary Zulu warriors.
The Golden Nugget:
Zulu used to throw gold-painted walnuts, but early on, the throwing of painted coconuts became a tradition. The coconuts thrown today are drained and quite light weight. They are painted and decorated by the members, and are, in their own way, modern folk art and probably the most prized throw of all. Signature beads, plush toys, and Zulu doubloons are among the other throws.
Zulu begins at 8:30 a.,. on Mardi Gras Day.