In 1959 the Krewe of Clockwork was founded in Algiers Louisiana. Made up mostly of oil, construction and and other skilled workers, the krewe named themselves after the punch clock that seemed to govern their lives.
They were a groundbreaking krewe in many respects. They were the first krewe to be mixed gender from the outset, one of the first to allow both male and female riders at all. After all, the Krewe of Comus had just opened up to female ridership three years before. They were also one of the few krewes made up almost entirely of working class citizens and had a relatively open enrollment policy.
For the first few years they paraded on the Westbank but quickly got an invite to join the growing throngs of krewes parading through the French quarter every year. For nearly a decade, the Krewe of Clockwork was growing and lighting up reveler’s faces on Lundi Gras Day.
But the 1970s were a difficult time for Mardi Gras Krewes. The city, fearing that the festivities were becoming unsafe, began to clamp down on regulations. This meant more permits, more expensive builds and higher fees for members. In 1974 the city stopped most parading in the French Quarter and moved the large parades to the now-familiar St. Charles line.
With costs rising, many of the smaller krewes joined forces and formed “superkrewes”, such as Endymnion. However, it seemed that there was little interest in partnering up with a working class krewe from Algiers like the Krewe of Clockwork, leaving them to fend for themselves.
They struggled on for a few years but memberships dwindled and funds dried up. Higher membership dues coupled with a nationwide recession were slowly halting the gears that kept the Krewe of Clockwork going.
In 1976, the krewe made a last ditch effort to keep their floats rolling. They, following in the footsteps of Blaine Kern (as well as several actual krewes), the clockworks offered tours of their warehouse. However, customers were few and the warehouse failed to become the tourist attraction that they were seeking.
It was then that some of the less ethical members of the krewe began to take matters into their own hands. As customers trickled in, the krewe members would rob them. It started innocently enough, not returning a lost wallet or stealing a watch or two, but it grew into muggings and even a few assaults.
As other members caught wind of what was going on, they began to leave, taking their dues with them. This pushed those who were left behind further into debt and making them even more desperate.
Some, as they left, reported the behavior to the police but tensions between the police and the city were already high, so high that a police strike was just a few years off. There was no way the police was going out of the way to take on a potential organized crime ring. As such, the members of the krewe were never investigated and no arrests were made.
But then things took an even darker turn. Farther behind than ever and drowning in bills they couldn’t pay, the remaining krewe members partnered up with an underground hospital and began providing blood, skin samples and organs. At first they made an effort to keep the “patrons” alive, only taking what was not-essential and knocking them out so they couldn’t be sure what happened.
However, after a few mistakes turned a pair of victims into corpses, the krewe, now down to it’s final few members, threw caution to the wind and began to openly murder and harvest anyone who was foolish enough to come through the door.
And amazingly enough, it worked. The krewe made enough in just a few months to pay off their debts and close down in the black. With the city paid off and the police too busy discussing a strike to even listen to those complaining, it seemed they would get away forever.
That is, until the members got greedy. Already used to sight of blood, the core members kept their operation alive for another six months. It wasn’t until a victim escaped and ran to the media, rather than the police, that anything happened.
Now, unable to ignore it any longer, the police surrounded the warehouse but remaining members of the krewe sought to escape. However, when they crawled into a hastily-dug escape tunnel, the ground sank beneath them, the soggy Louisiana earth swallowing them whole and bring the warehouse down on top of them.
Despite repeated efforts, the bodies were never recovered.
Though it might seem like those dark days are gone, like all bad things in the city, the Krewe of Clockwork is coming back at the request of Bernie Baxter.
You have four nights, October 29, 30th, 31st and, for the first time ever, a post-Halloween night on Saturday November 1st.
So come one, come all and see The Killer Krewe for yourself. You won’t leave disappointed… if you leave at all.