When you see the Skull and Bones Gang, you know ‘Mardi Gras is on’

NEW ORLEANS -- Before the Indians, before the Zulu coconuts, before Rex, the Northside Skull and Bones Gang gets Mardi Gras started in Treme.

Founders say the gang, the "original bone and skeleton gang," started in 1819 in the 6th Ward-Treme.

"We go door-to-door singing, having a good time, but at the same time bringing serious social messages to people," said Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes, Skull and Bones Gang leader.  "Do not do drugs, domestic violence of any type, women, children, gun violence, all those things that will ultimate demise.

"Live a fruitful life, do unto others as they will undo to you," he continued.

Barnes said the gang exists to remind people of the literal meaning of Carnival -- the shedding of the flesh.

"When people see us coming, some people running and screaming and crying, others come and greet us. We're kinda like a mirror. When you see dead man walking, you know Mardi Gras is on."