NEW ORLEANS — The Krewe of Bacchus is known for Carnival innovations and with the 2021 parade season shaping up to be like none other, the krewe on Monday announced plans for a virtual parade and mobile app.
With parades not rolling next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bacchus’ free smartphone app will give users the ability to catch and collect virtual throws every Sunday during Carnival season.
Players will be able to create their own avatar, trade virtual throws with other players and trade select virtual throws for actual throws.
Then on Feb. 14, 2021, on what would have been the day of the parade, “Bacchus Sunday,” Bacchus will live stream a virtual parade on the app. The krewe promises that past Bacchus royalty will make cameo appearances during the virtual parade, which will feature floats and bands.
A celebrity master of ceremonies will host the parade and bands will perform virtually between floats. More than 1,600 Bacchus krewe members will be virtually tossing their float’s signature throws as well as personalized throws.
Krewe captain Clark Brennan also pointed out that virtual throws are "green" and environmentally-conscious by definition, which is another plus. "This will kill two birds with one stone: going green and helping us with COVID," he said.
Some app users who collect virtual throws will be able to visit the Bacchus den after the parade to exchange them for actual throws, including a new one for 2021: a Bacchus bicycle.
The carnival krewe that in 1969 introduced the idea of a superkrewe with a celebrity king and oversized floats is now the first Mardi Gras krewe to develop a mobile app that can offer a virtual parade.
"Fifty years ago, my dad (Owen 'Pip' Brennan Jr.) started Bacchus with a group of businessmen in New Orleans to help change Mardi Gras and to bring focus to our city and our region," Brennan said Monday. "We've had a tough year, as we all know, but Bacchus has been working on some new technology to bring the New Orleans Mardi Gras experience to the world."
The app was conceived by Bacchus board member George Schiaffino, who by day is an information technology professional. It was developed by Bacchus member Jason Devillier, an app developer.
The app had actually been in the works over the past year, before it became a necessity due to COVID-19.
The “Throw Me Something Bacchus!” mobile smartphone app will be available at the start of the Carnival season on Jan. 6. The free app will be available for both Apple and Android users.
At Monday's news conference, Brennan added that the tradition of a Bacchus celebrity king would likely be paused for 2021. The parade theme floats, produced by Kern Studios, which would have been presented in 2021 will be rolled over to 2022, Brennan said.
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