Local feline enthusiasts are hosting a roaming event Sunday, March 19, beginning at J&J’s bar at 4:30 p.m.
“In New Orleans, we celebrate everything, and we love our cats,” says organizer Jennifer Callan. “We give everything else a parade – why not them?”
The group will crown its 2023 queen, Julie Nevius, co-owner J&J’s. Nevius was picked since she’s an area component and a “notorious cat lady,” says Callan. “She feeds about 20 to 30 cats on the block…The cat buffet goes out before the doors even open.”
Participants are motivated to transport their inner Eleanor Abernathy, the famous cat lady on “The Simpsons.”
Nevius will put on a crown and bring a scepter in the form of a glittery litter scoop.
“A lot of people wear pajamas, cat T-shirts, cat ears, or even a full-on cat suit,” Callan says.
From J&J’s the group will roam to Vaughan’s, then BJ’s Lounge, then back to its starting point, shaking containers of cat treats and popping off cans of wet food along the way. And, they have a playlist with cat-themed tunes.
“It’s basically a neighborhood walk around the block on a Sunday celebrating cats, and how crazy we are about cats,” Callan says.
Like numerous joyful concepts in New Orleans, the principle was formed in a yard over mixed drinks.
Longtime Bywater homeowner Jean Hannan had Callan and another friend, the late Julie Kelley, over in 2015 throughout Carnival prior to going to another krewe’s crowning event.
“I’ve never been named the queen of anything,” Hannan informed her good friends.
Hannan routinely leaves food out for possums and racoons, and she looks after numerous outside cats, so her good friends promptly comforted her: “You’re the queen of the crazy cat ladies,” they informed her.
“To know Jean Hannan is to know that she is the queen of everything,” Callan says. “She’s a septuagenarian superwoman who grew up on our block. She’s a mother, sister, best friend to us all. If she’d never been crowned [as a queen]I was determined to change that.”
Thus, a brand-new custom was born. The group hosted their very first pub crawl in 2022, and held another strolling event on New Year’s Day this year.
Kelley, who assisted motivate the concept, passed away in July 2022. She was “more of a dog person,” according to Callan. But this occasion is a method to commemorate her life, too. “I know she is looking down over us with joy over how this all evolved,” Callan says.
As word spread and pictures were shared after the inaugural occasion on social networks, Callan says “people just kept asking me to do it again.”
Besides, Callan — whose friendly orange tabby John Mayer in some cases accompanies her to happy hours — says she had actually been wishing to honor the tutelary saint of cat girls for many years.
Gertrude of Nivelles was never ever formally ordained by the Vatican.
But according to popular legend, she declined to wed, and had an exceptional capability to wield off rodents in the church basement where she lived, making her an area in the hearts of cat individuals all over.
“Gert shares her feast day with St. Patrick (March 17), so I was always just too busy drinking beer and eating corned beef to remember the holy cat lady,” says Callan.
Clearly, that’s altered.
Just don’t anticipate a lot of genuine cats to be in presence. After all, they are infamously tough to herd.
“I’m not gonna lie, most of the cats do not come out when they see us,” says Callan. “As it turns out, dozens of people blasting music, shaking treats and yelling, ‘here, kitty, kitty,’ is not the best way to get a cat on your lap. But we know where they live, so we leave treats for them to eat after the crazy people have gone.”
She includes, “Bring your kids, bring your grandma. It looks like it’s going to be a cool day, so we’re hoping to get people out there in robes and slippers. There’s no requirements, just come have fun. We just ask that nobody bring dogs.”