On February 3rd, the Mystic Krewe of Nyx, a.k.a. the Goddesses of the Night, took over New Orleans as their parade, one of the largest of the dozens rolling in the weeks leading up to today, Mardi Gras Day 2016, headed down St. Charles. Boasting 39 elaborate floats carrying an astounding 2,232 extravagantly costumed riders, the Nyx just earned themselves the coveted Mardi Gras title of “super krewe,” the first all-women super krewe, in fact. This comes just one year after being declared the largest all-women parading krewe in Mardi Gras history, and just five years after their legendary founding.
We knew nothing about the Mystic Krewe of Nyx until this morning, when a King Cake, a staple of the Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans, arrived at our office. It was sent to us by die-hard WYSK readers, Julie Steigner and her daughter Lola, our favorite 11-year-old feminist (she brought us to tears last June), who live in a small Louisiana town about an hour southwest of New Orleans. Included with the colorful confection was a mini ceramic pink and black Nyx purse charm, which, as it turns out, represents this krewe’s signature parade “throw”. For Mardi Gras novices a “throw” is what a particular krewe tosses from its floats to parade spectators; it could be anything from strings of beads, and doubloons, to cups and other trinkets. In the case of Nyx riders, they create hand-decorated purses to throw!
This King Cake not only sent us digging for the plastic baby baked inside, but for more info on the Mystic Krewe of Nyx, and it led us to the inspiring story behind their impressive rise to Mardi Gras parade badasses.
Named after the powerful Greek goddess of night, the Mystic Krewe of Nyx came to be thanks to a visionary woman named Julie Lea. Following Mardi Gras 2011, Julie had an idea to start her own all-women Mardi Gras krewe, a community oriented krewe that would unite women of diverse backgrounds for fun and sisterhood. But to make her vision a reality, she’d need to secure a permit from the City of New Orleans first. Knowing that the City hadn’t issued a new Mardi Gras krewe parade permit in over decade, Julie was anticipating an uphill battle.
Undeterred, she recruited several friends to come on board and together they set their sights on parading for the 2012 season. Over the next several months, the krewe started holding events, and growing their membership, but by October 1, 2011, their parade permit request still sat in limbo, unapproved.
Fueled perhaps by the power of Nyx, Captain Lea and her Board of Directors persevered, and it paid off. According to the Nyx site, just in the nick of time “an unprecedented vote occurred within the New Orleans City Council,” and on November 3, 2011, a unanimous decision was rendered to allow the all-female Mystic Krewe of Nyx to parade in Mardi Gras 2012.
Three months later, on February 15, 2012, the Nyx proudly rolled on the streets of New Orleans for the very first time with 534 riders. They were unstoppable from there, nearly doubling their riders to 921 in 2013, and to 1,222 in 2014.
Their hard work and contributions to their beloved city were rewarded last year, on January 6, 2015, when they were presented with a proclamation from the New Orleans City Council acknowledging the Mystic Krewe of Nyx as the largest all female parading krewe in Mardi Gras history. The women of Nyx paraded on February 11, 2015 with 1,511 riders. Amazingly, they just trumped that already impressive rider number by over 700, garnering a total of 2,232 riders and super krewe bragging rights at last week’s 2016 parade.
With no end to their power and presence in sight, the Nyx now have a closed waiting list of over 4,000 women who are hoping to join their sisterhood.
Brava ladies and Happy Mardi Gras all!