Zulu feels different from many of the other parades. They borrow a few floats from other krewes and throw beads made for parades as far back as 2009, but the sentiment here is unrivaled.
The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club isn’t called a krewe—it was founded in 1916 before the term was popular—but it is one. Zulu is one of the oldest organizations to march. Their parade takes place at 8 a.m. on Fat Tuesday, so the highly motivated will stay up all night on Monday and go to bed after the parade ends Tuesday morning. (If you plan to do this, you should know Zulu’s notorious reputation for running late.)
The Zulus offer arguably the most sought-after throw of Mardi Gras—the coconut. A throw is anything given away by krewe members on the floats or walking through the streets during the parade, and can range from plain sets of beads to pendants to an item exclusive to that krewe. Zulu’s coconuts are hand-painted and/or carved by individual members of the krewe, so they don’t throw them to just anyone.
In the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, Zulu ran into controversy with its costumes—grass skirts and blackface don’t exactly promote racial equality. You’ll still see the marching Zulus wearing this in recent parades, and in fact they are known for the intricacy and detail used to construct their outfits.
–Tara for TKGO