Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club

Caribbean and tropical Carnival in New Orleans!

Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club History
From a member discussion Mardi Gras 2011

Since 1982, the Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club has brought the color and joy of Caribbean Carnival to the streets of New Orleans. The Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club was founded by Chuck Bush who recruited ten friends to march. The second year there were about 30 people. Founder Chuck Bush died in 2003. The memorial theme was: "The memory of the Bushman lives on." There were about 240 people marching and there was not enough beer to last the march. In 2010 there were around 120 members.

In the early days, the club was renegade and marched without a parade permit. The police would kick the club off the street, then it would go down a few blocks and get back on St. Charles. One year the group had nearly made it onto Canal Street but was waved off at the last minute by a police officer who very nearly arrested founder Chuck Bush, sometimes called the Bushman. A decision was reached at the Banks St. Bar to apply for a parade permit. Chuck knew many people in City Hall, including members of the City Council, from his work in bankruptcy court. There was not an open slot among the five permitted marching groups in Orleans Parish, and so the permit was taken from a group called Zig Zag, who hadn't marched in years and given to Mondo Kayo. The other groups are the Lyons Carnival Club, Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Marching Club, the Jefferson City Buzzards, and the Corner Club. A sufficiently large payoff might induce Mondo Kayo to give up its permit, according to rumor, with figures of two million dollars or more suggested.

The first sound system was a big boom box with about 12 D-sized batteries. They had to be changed mid-parade. The music was all on cassette recorded by Bush. The second year the system was a car cassette player and speakers carried on a shopping cart with car batteries. The battery would often be removed from a member's car for the parade, to be replaced after the parade. Auto batteries were replaced by marine batteries. One year the battery died at Canal St. and the members agreed that an improvement was needed. The next improvement was a portable generator. The first one was the smallest available that would fit on a bike. That system was installed on the back of a three-wheeled bicycle. Even after adding a generator the system used auto speakers. In order to expand, a larger transport system was needed; a bicycle wouldn't hold large speakers. So a cart was constructed out of wood. That cart wasn't large enough, and it was given to the Krewe of Mystic Orphans and Misfits (M.O.M.s). It was replaced by a metal cart built by members around 2002.

Transport has always been by foot and bicycle. In the third or fourth year, the group borrowed a bicycle or two. One had cargo space in the front and the other in the back. They were called "Big Mamou" and "Little Mamou." Eventually the group bought two used bikes from Joe's Bike Shop on Tulane Avenue. There was a tandem bike and a three-wheeled tandem. These bikes needed a lot of maintenance, with chains breaking and other problems. These problems would occur during a parade, with members working desperately to fix them.

From the first to the second year, the membership almost quadrupled. A large group of women joined together the second year and they began the wearing of Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts. Sometimes the skirts were hard to find, and they manufactured them out of Schwegmann grocery store bags. There has never been an overall costume, with Caribbean Carnival the inspiration. A wide variety of costumes and accessories have been seen over the years; one fateful year a member showed up with a rickshaw and a baby pig.