The word is thought to have been coined in the early 19th century by an organization calling themselves Ye Mystick Krewe of Comus, as an imitation or parody of olde English; with time it became the most common term for a New Orleans Carnival organization.
Krewe members are assessed fees in order to pay for the parade and/or ball. Fees can range from thousands of dollars a year per person for the most elaborate parades to as little as $20 a year for smaller marching clubs. Criteria for Krewe membership varies similarly, ranging from exclusive organizations largely limited to relatives of previous members to other organizations open to anyone able to pay the membership fee. Lower priced krewes may also require members to work to help build and decorate the parade floats and make their own costumes; higher priced krewes hire professional artisans to do this work. Parading Krewe members are usually additionally responsible for buying their own throws, the trinkets thrown to parade spectators according to New Orleans tradition.
Some Krewes also have other events like private dances or parties for members thru out the year. Some also make a point of supporting charities and good causes.