Krewe du Kanaval brings Haitian Carnival to New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS — Haitian Carnival is coming to New Orleans thanks to a partnership between the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and indie rock band Arcade Fire.

Krewe du Kanaval kicks off tomorrow (Feb. 6) at 1:00 p.m. at Congo Square.

“We are going to have a a block party, a Haitian-style/Jamaican sound system block party with food,” says Preservation Hall director Ben Jaffe.

Jaffe and Preservation Hall got introduced to Kanaval and Arcade Fire, their partners in the celebration, through good deeds. Arcade Fire member Regine Chassagne’s foundation KANPE invited Preservation Hall to Haiti to help with a special request.

“Over there, there was a group of children always asking me for instruments,” says Chassagne, whose family is from Haiti. “I started to send instruments. And, I brought Ben and some members of Preservation Hall to Haiti to bring instruments. Seeing musicians from New Orleans meeting people in the rural communities in the mountains–and they couldn’t speak a common language–but they had music.”

There will be a pre-festival parade through the French Quarter starting at Preservation Hall, says Jaffe.

“We’re going to start with a block party,” he says. “The procession’s going to make its way through the French Quarter. And, we’re going to make our way over to to Treme. Then we are going to make our way over to Congo Square.”

The music will start in Congo Square at 1:00 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., the party will relocate as the procession moves to a block party at Toulouse and Chartres Streets.

The Congo Square festivities and following block party are free and open to the public.

“My favorite Haitian saying is ‘Tout Moun Se Moun.’ ‘Everybody is a somebody,'” says Chassagne. “So, I think it’s really a part of the spirit of this krewe. It’s really kind of taking into account we are extremely inclusive. Everybody is a somebody.”

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