The Krewe of Bacchus parade was founded in 1968 by a handful of New Orleans business leaders whose dream was to revitalize Carnival. However, the seeds of the Krewe of Bacchus were actually sown two decades before the present carnival organization was founded.
The original Krewe of Bacchus was the brainchild of Owen Edward Brennan, Sr., a true visionary. Brennan, owner of the Absinthe House, a famous bar on Bourbon Street, and later founder of Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street, was also the father of the first Captain of The Krewe of Bacchus, Owen “Pip” Brennan, Jr.
In the late 1940’s, Brennan realized that a large segment of his clientele was seasonally unhappy-namely tourists to the Mardi Gras. At that time, Carnival balls at Mardi Gras were predominately closed to anyone outside of New Orleans’ society circles.
So, In 1949, Brennan decided to spend an enormous amount of money, buck the entrenched New Orleans Society, and revolutionize the Mardi Gras. He did so by creating a brand new Krewe, called the Krewe of Bacchus, wide open to tourists.
Brennan staged two Bacchus Carnival balls, one in 1949 and the other in 1950 before his death in 1955. Regrettably, he did not live to see his idea develop into a new and lasting form.
Fast forward to 1968. For years, Carnival in New Orleans had been losing its luster slowly but surely. There was a lot of talk around town about what should be done to give a spark to the celebration.
Early in 1968, Owen “Pip” Brennan, Jr., son of the late Brennan, held a meeting at Brennan’s Restaurant to address this problem. What emerged was a rebirth of the vision his father conceived almost 20 years earlier: The Krewe of Bacchus.
It was decided that the Krewe of Bacchus would break with Carnival tradition by staging a Sunday night parade that would be the highlight of the Carnival season. Its floats would be bigger and more spectacular than anything previously seen in Carnival. Furthermore, Bacchus decided to have a national celebrity king lead its parade, breaking ranks with 113 years of Carnival tradition.
On Sunday, February 16, 1969, the Krewe of Bacchus staged its first Mardi Gras parade. The theme was “The Best Things In Life”, and the procession was led by celebrity king Danny Kaye. The 250 member, 15 float entourage took to the streets of New Orleans showering thousands of spectators with over a million strings of beads and 300,000 doubloons. The new parade was a smashing success.
The Krewe of Bacchus had left a lasting mark on the City of New Orleans and had proven to be the boost that the Carnival season so desperately needed.
Now, with more than 1,400 members and 33 animated super-floats, the Krewe of Bacchus is revered as one of the most spectacular Krewes in Carnival history.
Pip Brennan served as Captain of The Krewe of Bacchus until 2014 and was succeeded by his son, Clark Brennan. The Captain oversees each detail with great pride and meticulous perfection. Like his grandfather and father, this third generation Brennan shares the same love of Mardi Gras and New Orleans.