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The Cutest Parade in the World Has Returned

The Mystic Krewe of Barkus paraded for Mardi Gras 2022, and we’ve got all the outtakes.

Each Mardi Gras season, animal lovers come from all over New Orleans–and some from states farther afield–for one of the happiest days of the year. The Mystic Krewe of Barkus is New Orleans’ annual dog parade. Begun in 1993 by a small group of citizens, the event has swelled. The sidewalks are packed several hours before it begins and even those not participating opt to bring their four-legged companions out for the day.

While other Mardi Gras parades have giant tractor-trailers, pulling 20-foot floats along St. Charles Avenue, this processional is much more homemade, with smaller floats, plenty of glitter, and, of course, the honorary furry friends. Each year, a king and queen are chosen from the community, with one being a purebred dog and one being a rescue. Barkus 2022 was led by King Flash “Jumping Jack Flash” Lamar, a stately black Labrador, and the stunning Queen Mabel Bell, a small lady of indeterminant breed (though we suspect a little Chihuahua in there somewhere).

From golden retrievers in tulle ball gowns to Great Danes wearing tiaras, this year’s theme of Barkingham Palace left a lot up to interpretation, and the royal costumes were admirable, as well as totally hilarious. There were Brass Bands, cold cocktails, confetti, marching groups, as well as pups on leashes and dogs on floats. Under slightly overcast skies, the parade took its usual route, beginning at Armstrong Park and winding down St. Ann through the French Quarter.

Margaret Orr, the meteorologist NBC-affiliate WDSU, has been emceeing the parade for years, and her towering cotton-candy-pink wig made her visible from almost any angle. Renowned as The Oracle, she is beloved in the city for predicting the most unpredictable weather. The New York Times profiled her after Hurricane Ida, and Barkus would not be nearly as festive without her.

The Sophie B Wright school marching band was among the first of several bands bringing the parade down St. Ann Street.

The theme this year was Barkingham Palace and parade participants celebrated all the trappings of England, from royal courts to waving flags…to this reinterpretation of the Queen’s Guard uniform.

The Riverside Ramblers marching through confetti-littered streets in the French Quarter.

Animal-lover, actress, and activist Betty White, who passed just before her 100th Birthday in January of 2021, was honored with her own parade in the French Quarter a few weeks prior to Mardi Gras. Her fans returned at Barkus to celebrate her with signs and costumes. White was a hero in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when she personally paid to relocate many of the city’s zoo animals.

People spend months creating costumes for Mardi Gras, and the Mystic Krewe of Barkus is no exception. This hedge row topiary costume was one of the most outrageous of the parade.

A krewe of collies donned some Scottish tartan plaid.

The bulldog breed has its origins in the British Isles, and this fellow was covered in velvet robes, a golden crown, and plenty of tinsel.

It’s tough to say what’s cuter at the Mystic Krewe of Barkus–the dogs or their tiniest masters. We will call it a tie.

A happy-go-lucky parade participant marches with his Labradoodle in matching outfits.

Top marks for this terrier who politely paused for a photo.

The Louisiana Search and Rescue Dog Team (LaSAR) is invaluable to the city, from working after natural disasters to assisting the FBI. These dogs have saved lives, and they are a vital force for the region and are honored in the parade. A Pitbull and a duo of German Shepards wore their signature orange vests, plus a few fun accessories, for Barkus 2022.

The rain held off, the sun broke through, the marching bands finished, yet no one went home. After the parade, Barkus is always a block party of pets and people. If you missed it this year, consider attending in 2023. There’s nothing quite like it, anywhere, ever.