Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prayer Cards for 2012 parade

This year, for Joan's 600th birthday, we had a special prayer card designed by the local, female owned graphic design firm, Deep Fried Advertising.

An excerpt from the prayer on back of the card (front of card pictured above):
We burn candles to brighten this Twelfth Night, lighting the way for a joyous and safe Mardi Gras season and for brighter futures for us all. Joan of Arc, Saint, Warrior, Leader, and Honorary Maid of New Orleans, we thank you for shining your golden light on us! Please bless New Orleans in 2012 and keep us fierce and fabulous, like you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(New Orleans, Louisiana--December 21, 2011)--The Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc will hold
its annual Joan of Arc parade down Chartres Street in the French Quarter in
honor of Joan of Arc’s 600th birthday on Friday, January 6, 2012--Twelfth
Night. The parade begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Bienville statue at Conti and Decatur Streets, goes up Conti to Chartres,across Jackson Square past St. Louis Cathedral, and up to St. Phillip Street toend at the golden Joan of Arc statue in New Place de France.


After a brief photo session with horses and Joans at the statue, the krewe moves to the Dutch Alley Performance Pavilion between Decatur Street and the River for a public king cake (i.e. "Joan's birthday cake") ceremony with the krewe’s Maid of Honor and King. After brief speeches by each in both French and English, the public is offered king cake while supplies last...and the public, as has become the tradition, is encouraged and welcome to bring additional king cakes to share! Those lucky enough to receive Bienville House black and gold shot glass on the parade route will join the krewe with their annual Toast to Joan with a sip of Goldschlagger (a cinnamon, gold-flecked liquor).


The small krewe (approximately 45 members) prides itself on handmade
and/or hand decorated throws that reflect some aspect of Joan's life and
legend, Catholicism, French culture, and/or New Orleans' own Joan of Arc
statue. These include:

· 600 processional candles, hand tagged and
numbered, in honor of Joan's birthday.
· 16 handmade wooden swords given out by the Maid of Honor (the number of swords
reflects the age at which Joan of Arc left home to save France--and the age at
which she found her own sword in the Church of Saint-Catherine-de-Fierbois). Although hand decoratedby the krewe in the past, this year’s swords were actually hand carved b The swords were made by local father-and-son craftsmen,Marlowe and Eli McGraw, of Redfish Woodworks.
Their work can be found at Bayou Boogaloo and other local craftfestivals.
· 4 different hand cut 3”x4” block prints of Joan’s coat of arms printed in
gold ink on heavy paper using an antique nipper’s press (bookpress). The year,
date, and krewe name are hand written on the reverse along with the artists
signature. We intend to distribute a generous limited edition.

· Handsewn “dolls” of Joan of Arc

· Miniature prints of an original painting of the Joan of Arc statue by local painter Chris Long

· Handpainted magnets made by Poor Clare artist Sister Rita

· Krewe "prayer cards" with a special plea to Joan for a safe Mardi Gras season for all.


The krewe traditionally has three Joans of Arc: Maid, Soldier, and Statue. Last year and
this year the "statue" Joan will be portrayed by Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose representation includes the residents and businesses of the French Quarter. The Soldier Joan is and has always been portrayed by local horsewoman and trainer Caye Mitchell. The Maid is selected by application by krewe members and local French judges. This year, three
additional "peasant" Joans will ride with the krewe, showcasing six Joans, one for each century since Joan's birth.


The Maid of Honor contest is open to young women in New Orleans
between the ages of 16 and 19. Applicants are asked, among other things, to
compose a short essay about Joan of Arc and finalists conduct an interview in
French by phone with the French Consulate's Attaché de Communication. Students
are selected based on leadership, community involvement, and an understanding
and appreciation of Joan of Arc and French culture/language.

This year's Maid is Aggie Bell, 16, a junior at McGhee School. Her application essay included this paragraph:

“As a student an all-girls school that instills female leadership, I comprehend and deeply appreciate Joan’s fearless accomplishments. Combining her personal drive with an intense passion to serve, Joan is a powerful role model to me. I am a New Orleanian with family originating in France, so I find ties between our city and French history particularly
important. Joan’s bravery is not something that applies strictly to OrlĂ©ans;
her example can be emulated anywhere.”


As Joan's "crowning achievement" was her ensuring that the Dauphin became King, the same year that the krewe began selecting a Maid, it also began selecting a king to walk
in the parade. In 2010, the king was David Villarubia, proprietor of The Degas
House; in 2011 the king was Lilian Cadet, director of Alliance Francaise New Orleans. The 2012 Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc King is Damien Regnard, "Elected Representative for the French abroad" (Conseiller elu a l'Assemblee des Francais de l'Etranger). In this role he represents French living abroad in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Former President of French American Chamber of Commerce.


Last year the exceptional international minstrel band Wolgemut led the parade;
unfortunately they are on tour this year at the time of the parade so cannot
offer up their pipes and drums. This year's group will include a compilation of
local musicians playing a medieval drum, flute, and accordion, for a more
possibly authentic, if not as boisterous and "danceable" medieval sound!

The krewe's only "float" is a medieval cart designed, built, and donated
in 2010 by Delgado Community College's Carpentry program.


The Krewe de Jeanne d'Arc, founded in 2008 by Amy Kirk Duvoisin, first strolled on Twelfth Night 2009. That inaugural parade was open to anyone who arrived in medieval dress to walk in the procession. It has since grown to a paid dues krewe ($100 average krewe cost) that includes
approximately 50 members who participate in various French cultural events and krewe-driven gatherings such as the annual conference, the Salon de Jeanne d'Arc, held each year at the krewe's sponsor hotel, The Bienville House Hotel.

The inspiration for the krewe was Duvoisin's love of Joan of Arc first, the adoration of the French Quarter statue second--and thirdly, the desire to create a sort of "street theater" for Joan in a town where Mardi Gras is akin to live theater. Thus, the first year the parade included a performance from Shaw's Saint Joan by a NOCCA student; French singing by local performance
artist Kathy Randels and her family and company members; and the assignation of roles for a peasant Joan, a soldier Joan, a saint Joan, and a statue Joan. The parade welcomes anyone with a sense of humor, love of all that Joan of Arc represents, an interest in art, history, and French culture, and a desire to continue the walking traditions of Mardi Gras. Artists, teachers, and
Renaissance Fair fans seem particularly drawn to the krewe; though many of the members happen to be Catholic, it is a sincerely secular krewe that encourages anyone who wants to celebrate Joan of Arc to join in the creative and inspirational fun that Joan engenders. The krewe continues to develop as new members join; a book club was a project the first year; next year the krewe looks forward to developing a spring film series in partnership with the Loyola Medieval Studies program.


On any of the above, including membership and student contest applications, past articles, and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Amy Kirk Duvoisin, founder of the Joan of Arc Project, at (504) 251-5046 or

General information about the krewe can be found
at Stay on top of krewe events, needs/wants/wishes,
and other announcements by liking us on Facebook where we are "Joan of Arc

Photos of 2010 and 2011 parades, including Maids of Honor, medieval cart, and more can be requested by emailing Amy at or

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Krewe for the Holiday Blues

I grew up near Cleveland, so the winter holidays in a warmer climate have their own special assets...but the truly magical bonus about Christmas season in New Orleans is that it's rather quickly followed by Mardi Gras season. When I first moved here, I deeply appreciated the transformation of holiday decor fluidly transformed into equally elegant Mardi Gras decor on wreaths, bushes, trees, and lawn ornaments. I loved that Christmas didn't so dramatically end and that, rather than winter turning dark again, in fact it got even brighter with a daily feast of costumes, floats, parties, and parades.

When I started the Joan of Arc parade, several of the founding krewe members commented that the krewe was a lifesaver for them because of their usual winter blues. Whether their melancholy was due to Christmas itself or the depression that sets in despite sunnier skies here compared to their northern origins, these women and men remarked how cool it was to have something so close to Christmastime to celebrate that joined the two seasons together..which is of course what Twelfth Night is meant to do, as the Epiphany!

Lucky for us, Joan's birthday falls on January 6th and so just when we might be sad or exhausted after New Year's Eve, and wondering what next to look forward to besides taking down the tree, or waiting at least a month for the first official Mardi Gras float to travel down a major street in the city, we have this to do: dress up in warm medieval clothes and walk with people of all ages and backgrounds through the chilly French Quarter, sharing the last feelings of Christmas cheer together and getting excited to move into Mardi Gras with a new spirit, thanks to Joan!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Photos from last year to inspire you this year!

I don't know who this woman is, but she has inspired a million conversations by me and the title of the play I hope to write about Joan and New Orleans...

Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer on left as "Joanie on the Pony" and 2011 Maid of Honor Mallory Young on the right!

Founding krewe member, Lil Pinney! (who is among other things, a French teacher at McGhee!)

Rob Clemenz of handing out his much-prized and anticipated handpainted medallions and coins!

Expect all of the above and more at our 4th annual parade on Friday, January 6th...

For links to articles about us, our history, membership, and general contact information visit

(Can you tell we need a real web designer? Donations welcome!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

One month til Joan turns 600!

How does one celebrate the birthday of a Saint? In New Orleans, we celebrate it with a parade...and candles...and King cake "as" birthday cake since our unofficial patron saint of New Orleans, Joan of Arc, happens to have been born on the start date of Mardi Gras: Twelfth Night!

It was a significant decision to celebrate Joan's birthday rather than her "feast day", aka the day of her death, which is when the Church celebrates and honors her--and most Saints. The day a Saint died and went to heaven is apparently a more important day than when this same mere human was born into the eventually become a Saint...

But if you know anything about the miracle of birth (I mean to say: if you have ever been born...) and if you take a moment to think about just how amazing it is to be born at all, and to live in this world, it's, in my opinion, something definitely worth celebrating!

The fact that a human as remarkable and influential as Joan of Arc was born at all is a fact to be celebrated. And the fact that 600 years later, we still honor her, adore her, study her, talk about her, reference her, and celebrate her...that is remarkable. Who among us can imagine be remembered around the world in 600 years? Who among us would be known on a first name basis and noted in everything from pop records to public statues?

A girl of 19 who died for her country and her god is an inspiration to us all and deserves annual recognition...but how truly wonderful that on this very notable day, the 600th year since her birth, the entire world is taking note.

However, here in New Orleans, every January 6th, be it her 597th birthday (the year I founded the parade) to her 697th birthday, we have and will treat Joan's birthday with significance, love,

honor, and a special party, New Orleans' style!

Come celebrate with us...bring your own king cake and share it with others, toast our Maid of Honor and King, walk in the French Quarter and relish the start of Mardi Gras as we reflect on the start of Joan's life.

Joan, we are glad you were born. We are sorry you died so young...but oh, we are so glad you lived at all!