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 on the Carnival parade season.

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

Please go to the links below to view a history of our bal masque and parade themes throughout the years, as well as pictures of our signature floats and parade units.             ____________________________________






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.





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 flambeaux.  These signify the flambeaux 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 represented as being blank, but is ever-changing and displays different pictures and names to represent Spartans or other Carnival participants that are singled out for distinction.  A “personalized” Coat of Arms is given to deserving individuals that The Knights wish to honor.



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.






Leonidas was one of Sparta's greatest warriors.  He led the Spartan forces during the Second Persian War and is remembered for his heroic death at the Battle of Thermopylae.  Leonidas was the third son of Anaxandridas II of Sparta, and thus belonged to the Agiad dynasty, who claimed descent from the demigod Heracles.

Over the years the Knights of Sparta have had members who have "fallen in battle" after dedicating many years of service to our organization and making numerous significant contributions to our success.

The Leonidas Memorial Award was, therefore, initiated in 2015 to honor fallen Spartan Members who are considered worthy of praise for their contributions to our krewe.

Any Spartan Member can nominate a fallen Spartan Brother for this honor, which is not necessarily given on an annual basis.  The Captain and Officers will evaluate that nomination and, if considered worthy, will confirm that deceased member as an honoree.

            Confirmation will be awarded on the basis of:
                 1.  Years of service to Sparta
                 2.  Dedication to our krewe
                 3.  Contributions made to the organization and Carnival
                 4.  Overall demonstration of our Spartan values

Honorees will have their names inscribed on the Leonidas Memorial Award Plaque that will be affixed to the Signature Float in ride in the Spartan Parade every year.



Home l About l Events l Gallery l Route l Members l Contact


(Questions or comments about the Sparta website- please contact the webmaster)