The History of the Knights of Sparta

The Knights of Sparta originated as a bal masque organization in 1951, staging elaborate tableaus for many years at the Municipal Auditorium. In 1981, the Knights began parading in Orleans Parish. The first several parades rolled as Mecca/Sparta, after which the parade, as well as the bal masque, took on the name of The Knights of Sparta.

The Knights are still known for their elaborate bal masque tableaus, now staged at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, and for their traditional, yet innovative, street parade on the first Saturday of the Carnival parade season.

A spectacular signature float, a mule-drawn king’s float, traditional flambeau, and mounted officers are just a few of the wonderful features of the Knights of Sparta street parade each year.

Explanation of our Spartan Motto
Palmam Qui Meriut Ferat

So many people have asked about the meaning of our Spartan Motto. We, therefore, have developed this note as a means of explanation.

In ancient Sparta, the symbol that was awarded for achievement (merit) was the palm branch. In later Roman times that symbol was changed to the laurel wreath, which was placed atop the head. However, in Sparta the palm branch was presented to those who earned distinction, either on the athletic field, in government, or in the eyes of the Spartans.

The motto arose, therefore, of “Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat”, which translates to “Let He Who Merits The Palm Possess It”…… In other words, “If You Wish To Gain Recognition, Work Hard For It”.

The Knights of Sparta, of course, wish recognition as an outstanding Carnival krewe and, therefore, are prepared to work hard for that distinction. Our motto, going back to our Spartan roots, therefore is, “Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat”.

In the future, Spartans who are singled out for honor will receive a palm branch from the krewe.

Coat of Arms for the Knights of Sparta

The “Coat of Arms” of the Knights of Sparta Carnival Organization was conceived in 2009 and incorporates many facets of the krewe’s history and tradition.

The overall shape of the central portion of the Coat of Arms is a shield that represents the honor and chivalry of Spartan Krewe Members.

Surrounding the shield to the right and left are coils of wrought iron work that represent the history of the many New Orleans homes that the parade passes as it winds its way through the heart of the city and the citizens who come from those homes to view the parade. From the upper end of each coil of wrought iron there extends a traditional kerosene flambeau. These signify the flambeau that are seen in the Sparta Parade each year.

Immediately below the shield are the words of the Spartan Motto, “Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat”….”Let He Who Merits the Palm Possess It”; and below that are two intertwined palm branches that also signify the merit of the Spartan Krewe.

Above the shield are the crossed swords of the Captain and Jr. Captain of The Knights of Sparta. These represent the continuity of the generations of the Krewe, as the tradition of Carnival is passed down from father to son…and from grandfather to grandson. Above the swords is the name of the organization, “The Knights of Sparta”.

The interior of the Shield is divided into four quadrants. The top left quadrant displays the Spartan Helmet seen in the Crest of The Knights of Sparta, as well as the date the Krewe was founded – 1951.

The bottom left quadrant displays the date of the first Sparta Parade – 1980 – (the Krewe was a bal masque only organization before that date), a scepter that represents all of the Kings and Queens who have reigned throughout the years, the date – 2005 – which marks the year of Hurricane Katrina (the year in which the Krewe faced disaster, but rose to overcome adversity and strengthen their traditions), and “comedy and tragedy” masks that symbolize not only Carnival, but also the good and bad times that the Krewe has faced and weathered.

The bottom right quadrant displays a picture of the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar representing the grand avenue that the Sparta Parade traverses each year, as well as a fleur de lis symbolizing the great city of New Orleans.

The upper right quadrant is ever-changing and displays different pictures and names to represent Spartans or other Carnival participants that are singled out for distinction. This year, the quadrant displays an image of a torch, which symbolizes the passing of the torch this year from Captain Emeritus Dave Mulnick to Captain Ken Beck.  In addition, the torch symbolizes Torch Bearers of Tomorrow, a philanthropic program of the Spartan Society.  The torch is also a reminder of the carrying of the eternal flame through New Orleans for the 1984 Olympics.  A “personalized” Coat of Arms is given to deserving individuals that The Knights wish to honor.

Explanation of the Official Colors of the Knights of Sparta

Our krewe colors (which are used for all Spartan activities, etc.) are Harvard Red, Old Gold, and Forest Green.

Harvard Red stands for the deep red of a Spartan Soldier’s cloak and uniform. This color was chosen by the Spartans to hide any trace of blood from their enemies so that a Spartan would never show weakness.

Old Gold stands for the golden color of a Spartan’s sword. His power was shown through the might of his sword in battle, and it was his most prized possession.

The Forest Green stands for the green of the palm branch that was presented to Spartans who distinguished themselves in battle or other pursuits. It also stands for our krewe motto, “Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat”…..”Let he who merits the palm posses it”. We also use the Forest Green to remember the “rebirth” of our krewe after the devastation of Katrina. We rose again from the green of the sea foam…and will be stronger for the journey.

Look for our Harvard Red, Old Gold, and Forest Green colors at Spartan events and in our parade.

Past Ball and Themes

Year: Theme and Queen
      • 2022: The Art Of Making Art
        • Miss Joycelyn Carol Miller
      • 2020: On The Street Where You Live
        • Miss Shannon Garrity
      • 2019: Under The Sea
        • Miss Michaela Reese
      • 2018: A Midsummer Knight’s Dream
        • Miss Grace Kathryn Ciaston
      • 2017: Le Cirque
        • Miss Gabrielle Bernadette Ciaston
      • 2016: Knight at the Tonys
        • Miss Amanda Jeannette Dutruch
      • 2015: In the Mood
        • Miss Madeline Gloria Clement
      • 2014: Isn’t it Romantic
        • Miss Keri Lynn Mercer
      • 2013: My Way
        • Miss Megan Christine Beach
      • 2012: La carnaval des Animaux
        • Miss Erin Elizabeth Patin
      • 2011: I Write the Songs
        • Miss Laura Hutton Chapman
      • 2010: Sparta’s Realm of Rhyme
        • Miss Kathaleen Mary Mercer
      • 2009: Empire of the Sun
        • Miss Megan Elise Ducote
      • 2008: In 3/4 Time
        • Miss Shayna Lynn Beevers
      • 2007: By the Gods
        • Miss Vanessa Louise Gale
      • 2006: Sparta Salutes
        • Hurricane Katrina
      • 2005: I Hear a Symphony
        • Miss Lillie Elizabeth Joyce
      • 2004: A Starry, Starry Knight
        • Miss Monique Catherine Rodrigue
      • 2003: A Knight at the Ballet
        • Miss Holly Elizabeth Whitlow
      • 2002: Sparta’s Poets Laureate
        • Miss Brandin Elizabeth Andrews
      • 2001: The Glory that was Sparta
        • Miss Alanna Christine Ramhofer
      • 2000: Invitation to the Dance
        • Miss Stacy Renee Whitlow
      • 1999: A Master’s Touch
        • Miss Erin Lee Cucullu
      • 1998: Queens of Hearts
        • Miss Jeune’ Michelle Rodrigue
      • 1997: Maestro’s Magical Museum
        • Miss Veronica G. Bell
      • 1996: Journey to Lost Civilizations
        • Miss Alison Lorraine Ramhofer
      • 1995: Le Carnival de International
        • Miss Joy Lynn Charpentier
      • 1994: Rivers of the World Revisited
        • Miss Stephanie Norris Courtenay
      • 1993: Echoes from the Golden Concert Stage
        • Miss Mary-Margaret Fitzmorris
      • 1992: Celebration of Exploration
        • Miss Lauren Raisner Courtenay
      • 1991: Heroes and Heroines of Fact and Fiction
        • Miss Tiffany Renee Schneller
      • 1990: Sparta’s…Knights at the Oscars
        • Miss Ashley Elizabeth Andrews
      • 1989: Faubourgs de la Nouvelle Orleans
        • Miss Kathleen Prats Vogt
      • 1988: Stories Twice Told
        • Miss Stacy Lynn Johnson
      • 1987: New Orleans Re-Discovered
        • Miss Kristine Simno Nielsen
      • 1986: It’s About Time
        • Mrs. Edward G. Conrad, Jr.
      • 1985: That Broadway Rhythm
        • Mrs. Francis A. Courtenay, Jr.
      • 1984: The Winged Kingdom
        • Miss Penny Ann Whitlow
      • 1983: L’Opera
        • Miss Debbie Anne Brundrett
      • 1982: The Mighty Mississippi
        • Mrs. Rosario F. D’Amico
      • 1981: Sparta’s Golden Era of Entertainment
        • Miss Lori Ann Brisbi
      • 1980: Midnight in Toyland
        • Miss Wanda Ann Landry
      • 1979: Genesis of the New Orleans Mardi Gras
        • Miss Elizabeth Marie Bruner
      • 1978: Romantics of Fact and Fiction
        • Ms. Lois Emerson
      • 1977: Flowers and Land Marks of the World
        • Mrs. Anthony J. Schneller
      • 1976: Anniversaries Past and Present
        • Mrs. Richard A. Campo
      • 1975: How Sweet It Is
        • Mrs. Maryann Andrews Arcement
      • 1974: Wonders of the World
        • Mrs. Neil R. Smith
      • 1973: Moments to Remember
        • Mrs. William Haws
      • 1972: Splendors of the Spectrum
        • Mrs. William Wrigley
      • 1971: Escapade in Space
        • Mrs. Anthony R. Giangross
      • 1970: Cavalcade of Festivals
        • Miss Maretta Maggio
      • 1969: Tales of the Arabian Nights
        • Mrs. John C. Centanni
      • 1968: A Tribute to Irving Berlin
        • Mrs. Charles A. Andrews, Jr.
      • 1967: All That is Beautiful
        • Miss Janet Schnell
      • 1966: Dream Along With Me
        • Mrs. Delams Bosarge
      • 1965: Witchcraft, Magic and Voodoo
        • Mrs. Curtis J. Hezeau
      • 1964: The Wonderful World of IF
        • Mrs. Rita Mae Long
      • 1963: A Royal Repast Revisited
        • Mrs. Germaine C. Wells
      • 1962: Money the World Over
        • Mrs. Edward Riecke
      • 1961: A Merry Christmas
        • Mrs. Jack A. McQuaig
      • 1960: Fiesta
        • Miss Beverly Miller
      • 1959: World Beneath the Sea
        • Mrs. Samuel Grapes
      • 1958: Games of Fortune, Fickle Fancies
        • Miss. Nicke Oddo
      • 1957: Sweetest Ball of All
        • Mrs. John Wallenburg
      • 1956: Arts of a Modiste
        • Mrs. Lester Schnell
      • 1955: Color Metry
        • Mrs. Arthur Bech
      • 1954: A Royal Repast
        • Mrs. Germaine C. Wells
      • 1953: Wonders of the Universe
        • Mrs. Fred Laucks
      • 1952: Rivers of the World
        • Mrs. Gypsy Prinz

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