‘This is a time for fun … for camaraderie’: Harry Connick, Jr., Orpheus royalty ready to roll

NEW ORLEANS -- The Krewe of Orpheus paraded its monarchs and celebrities out for a pre-parade talk to riders in the Ernest Moral Convention Center this afternoon.

This year, the monarchs are "Blindspot" actress Jaime Alexander and actor/comedian Keegan-Michael Key. New Orleans' own The Dixie Cups are also riding.

Harry Connick, Jr., is also celebrity rider and one of the founders of Orpheus. He and Captain Sonny Borey created the parade 25 years ago.

Connick had just ridden in Bacchus as the super krewe's king and said he wanted to open up that experience to a more diverse crowd.

"I wanted, really, to have a parade that I could ride with Jill," said Connick, referring to his wife, "because she couldn't ride with me because there were no women allowed. I'm like, 'We got to do something about this.' And, I had a lot of black friends that want to ride. I said, 'We got to fix this.' And that's what Orpheus is."

Jaime Alexander said she is happy to ride with strong women like the members of The Dixie Cups.

"I'm so honored to be here, y'all," Alexander told the crowd. "This has been on my bucket list since I was a little kid. And, I am just so proud to represent a bit of female empowerment here tonight."

Keegan-Michael Key pointed to the diversity of the riders as one of the reasons he loves New Orleans.

"Every moment I've ever spent in this city has been filled with warmth, and possibility, and tradition, and culture ,and hospitality, and just the spirit that you people have shown with everything that you have been through--in not only this past decade, but these past centuries--is inspiring, inspiring, inspiring to me," said Key.

After the celebrities had had their say, Borey reminded the riders about some of the parade's rules, including wearing masks for the entire ride.

He also reiterated the non-political nature of the krewe.

"This parade is for fun," Borey said. "This parade is for camaraderie between the people in the crowd and the people in the floats. So, we are not to throw anything political. Nothing political at all. This is a time for fun not for statements."