How the New Orleans Mom Community Made the “Krewe of Lois” Come to Life

How the New Orleans Mom Community made the “Krewe of Lois” Come to Life

When my daughter was born almost four years ago, I joined every local mom group I could find on social media so that I could stay connected to the New Orleans community (and learn how to raise a tiny human) while adjusting to my new life as a stay-at-home-mom. At that time, there was no way of knowing how important of a role the New Orleans Mom- Uptown Moms group would play in my professional life years later when I returned to work. {Note :: New Orleans Mom manages several neighborhood groups designed for local moms to connect with one another – they are free and open to all}

Krewe of Lois New Orleans
The daughter of a New Orleans Mom community member interacts with Queen Lois.

I am a hospice music therapist. Each day, I visit with patients who are receiving end-of-life care from our team at Lakeside Hospice and I play live music according to their preferences to enhance their quality of life, facilitate family cohesion, create space for verbal processing, and assist with other social and emotional needs that may arise. When I met Lois, our patient who is now widely known as the Queen of the “Krewe of Lois,” it didn’t take long to learn how much she loved Elvis and Mardi Gras. When the news was released that there would be no parades this year due to the global pandemic, Lois had recently learned that her cancer was progressing and she began to lose hope that she would live to see another parade. She told me, “I’m okay with dying, I just hope I can live to see one last parade.” 

When people are transitioning to the end of their lives, I find it to be a truly sacred time and it is a great privilege to be invited into this part of their journey. It is a time when people are reflecting on their lives, processing joys and regrets, and thinking about the legacy they will leave. In my experience working in hospice care, I have found it rare that somebody can articulate a final wish that is actually feasible to realize, so when Lois told me about her desire to parade once more, I knew we had to honor her wish. 

At our next team meeting, I proposed the idea to my colleagues and asked if they would join me in throwing Lois a parade of her own. I imagined our small team tossing beads to her while she sat in the recliner in her living room listening to Mardi Gras music. They were all on board, especially my boss who suggested that I personally reach out to Krewe members and attempt to gather signature throws from all the local Krewes. Thrilled about her support, I did what I have done for the last four years when I need to connect with the local community; I posted a request for throws on social media, specifically the New Orleans Mom-Uptown Moms group on Facebook. 

New Orleans Moms uptown moms
Dance Fleur Elite owner and New Orleans Mom community member, Karen Binnings.

The moms here are networked, ambitious, and most of all, supportive. Despite knowing this, nothing could have prepared me for the outpouring of support I received within minutes. It wasn’t just throws people were offering; one mom ordered a Haydel’s King Cake that served 60 people; another delivered her hand-crafted parade head piece; others gave leftover Yardi Gras décor; the owner of the Bead Shop created Lois a personalized necklace; the owner of Dance Fleur Elite organized a group of dancers; moms from several krewes beautifully wrapped their hand-crafted signature throws while others offered to costume, pull their kids in wagons, play instruments, sing, and collect throws from around the city and drop them off to me personally. It was beautifully overwhelming. I became nervous that my supervisors would ask me to scale back because we were not guaranteed the time or money needed to receive a city permit, given Lois’s prognosis. But once again, I was pleasantly surprised by my boss’s response: “Go for it.” She assisted with calls to the Sheriff’s office and another mom friend of mine made some calls to her personal connection there too.

Within 48 hours my boss had a police escort arranged and I received a voicemail from someone at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office that said “Don’t worry about a permit, it’s a blessing what y’all are doing. Just don’t hold up the street for too long.”

We definitely held up the street for too long!

New Orleans Mom support groups
Children of New Orleans Mom community members celebrate Lois during the parade.

The Krewe of Lois Quickly Grew Thanks to New Orleans Mom

After my original post, word spread quickly. The parade grew so large that it made the front page of the local papers and online news sources. Aside from the Krewe of the Rolling Elvi and the Cabrini Alumnae Association, the New Orleans Mom community were the only people I personally contacted for help with the event. Without this particular group, the “Krewe of Lois” parade would not have been what it was.  

I thank you, New Orleans Mom, for making Lois’s final wish come true. There is room for you on our hospice volunteer team if you’d like to do more for the patients in our community. You showed up in a big way and it should not be surprising that you made this parade the event of the year. After all, you are moms! 

Carissa Herhuth, Hospice and Palliative Care Music Therapist

New Orleans Mom community groups
Carissa Herhuth presents Lois with a necklace gifted by New Orleans Mom, Georgia Wilson, owner of The Bead Shop on Magazine Street.


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