Who are the 610 Stompers and what makes them so special to the metro New Orleans area?
You’ve seen them in Mardi Gras parades and have enjoyed them at special events, but who are the 610 Stompers and what makes them so special to the Metro New Orleans area? The 610 Stompers are New Orleans’ first all-male dance troop that was the brainchild, in 2009, of a group of Saints super fans that sat in section 610 of the Superdome.
Brett Patron, and a small group of dance enthusiasts, conceived of the idea over cocktails, and even more cocktails. They are described as an “Only in New Orleans” sensation that has become a cultural anomaly which has grown in popularity. The group has grown to approximately 100 members strong. Each member has passed muster at the rigorous auditions held in the heat of August at Harrah’s, and wear the official costume of the trademark red satin jacket, baby blue polyester shorts, a terry- cloth headband, an official 610 Stompers’ tee-shirt, knee-high athletic socks, and athletic shoes, when performing. Membership consists of local lawyers, doctors, educators, business owners, and blue-collar laborers. All funds received from their appearances are donated to charity, and since their inception they have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities throughout the Metro New Orleans area.
Rudy Knoll, a veteran Stomper, explained how difficult auditions can be. “First of all, you have to battle your nerves. You have to quickly learn the dance moves specifically choreographed for the audition before performing for others. Although I had to audition twice before I was selected, it was well worth the effort.” Knoll first met charter member, Patrick Raymond, at a function in St. Bernard. Their wives knew each other previously and introduced the two men. The men eventually got around to talking about the Stompers. Knoll knew who they were and thought it sounded like terrific fun. In August, 2015, Knoll auditioned for the first time in an un-air conditioned bar on Frenchmen Street, but was not accepted as a member of the dance troop until 2016. Knoll is one of the fortunate men because he has friends that have auditioned numerous times and were not accepted. “Aside from the wonderful causes we raise money for, this is about having great fun with a group of guys at family and friend oriented socials throughout the year. When my two sons attend socials with me, they wear their official Future 610 Stompers tee-shirts,” said Knoll. In addition to marching in Mardi Gras parades, the dance troop performs at private events and special fundraisers.