In Which We Attend A Mardi Gras Ball

Miss Kristy, before her royal transformation

I took enough pictures for at least a week's worth of blogging. In this first installment, I will take you to the annual ball of the Krewe of Ponchartrain, featuring the royal niece, Kristy the First, 33rd Queen of Ponchartrain. And I'll throw in a little trivia as a treat.

There are hundreds of Mardi Gras clubs (known as Krewes) throughout the metro New Orleans area. Some are by invitation only, and some are open to public membership. The Krewe of Ponchartrain is open to anyone who wants to participate, regardless of race, creed or where you live. That means that each and everyone of you could sign up to be a part of next year's ball and parade (seriously, we could have a float full of knitters!). In some organizations, the king and queen are chosen by the membership, while in others, anyone can sign up to be the king or queen.

The old traditional organizations, like Rex (which parades on Mardi Gras day, and is the most commonly photographed parade of Mardi Gras) have very boring debutante balls, where the spectators sit in an auditorium and watch people in fancy clothes march around and take themselves way too seriously. There is no eating or drinking, and you can only dance if you are "called out" by a krewe member. I was once a maid in one of these traditional balls and almost yawned myself to death.

Queen Kristy's ball was of the non-traditional variety, where the common-folk get to party and have lots of fun. It's held in the ballroom of an old brewery in the French Quarter, on the river. We sat at large tables and had a lovely view of the riverfront from the windows:

Festive tables, lots of room for drinking and eating

Killer view

There is a cocktail hour before the court is presented, so even though you have to sit and be polite at some point, you can still have your adult beverage of choice (or 2) to make the downtime fly right on by. The presentation includes introductions of the officers, Captain, former queens, and special guests. And then the moment we drove all the way to New Orleans to see - the presentation of the royal court. First, the maids are presented. Kristy's sister, Brandy was one of 4. Here she is, lighting up the room with her beautiful smile and making her official curtsy:

The lovely maid (and future queen), Brandy

After the maids, the king is introduced and then (ta-da) the queen is presented. The king is crowned (the queen already has hers so they won't mess up her 'do) and the queen is given 3 really cool presents: her official scepter, the official silver grouper necklace (the grouper, a local fish, is the Ponchartrain mascot), and the official second line umbrella. It is good to be queen.

Queen and King Ponchartrain XXXIII

The Court

And then the fun begins. There was a delicious Creole food buffet that included lots of goodies such as trout almondine (my favorite), lyonnaise potatoes, creamed spinach (another of my all-time favorites - don't say ick until you've tried it), and lots of seafood dishes, but I would probably go into anaphalactic shock just by even sampling a tiny bit of the seafood, so I didn't pay attention to those. And lots of fantastic bite-sized desserts - fruit tarts, profiteroles, eclairs, pecan tarts, lemon tarts, canoli - and yes, I tried every one. There was a local party band playing lots of New Orleans jazz while we ate. And then it was time to dance the calories away with a local funk band, Benny Grunch & the Bunch.

To start the dancing off, the Queen leads the Second Line, a New Orleans classic celebration dance. It started as the joyous finish to jazz funerals but somehow has become part of big parties and weddings. The leader of the line carries an open, decorated umbrella. Everyone falls into line behind the leader and waves a white hankerchief (or dinner napkin) and you dance and follow the leader around - sort of like a Creole conga line. It helps to be a bit drunk. There was even a limbo, although this is not at all traditional. The Queen somehow managed to make it under with umbrella and crown intact -something only someone very young or a yoga master could accomplish.

The Queen, her date and the umbrella

The Queen and her parents lead the Second Line
(the guy on the left is actually at the end of the line)

The Second Line Limbo

My SIL in the center, brother on right and the Queen's grandmother and other aunt on the left,
dancing like maniacs

La T'aunte de la Reine, La Reine Belle and Le Pere de la Reine

The Queen's cousin and her brother in a rare moment of behaving themselves

Thank goodness we had the following day off to recover, with no official royal parties to attend. We took that time to visit with friends and family on the northshore of Lake Ponchartrain and rested up for the parade the next day. I have pictures! And there may be some yarn porn as well, you'll have to come back and see.


Dianne said...

It looks like everyone had a great time. Those desserts sound yummy!

Sonya said...

Wow! I live in the wrong part of the country.
Your family is very lovely.
Can't wait to see the rest of the goodies.

wildflower38 said...

Very festive occasion. I especially liked the picture your brother, niece and yourself. Very nice!

BOSSY said...

The Queen and her date? Mighty fine looking. What an event.

Dorothy said...

What fun!