Mardi Gras New Orleans
King & Queen of Mardi Gras
The best way to explain New Orleans' Mardi
Gras, royalty & krewes might be to utilize Louise
Pastuer's deathbed confession. "It's the terrain."
Isolated aspects of the rituals, observed out of
context, don't explain the whole story.
To convey any understanding of this slice of
society, their rituals & traditions, requires a grasp
of that terrain, which is primal, with a thick
veneer of protocol. There are the throbbing street
parades, which the world knows as Mardi Gras &
there is the St. James' bow amidst secret societies.
Within the environs, which encompasses both,
there is evidence of evolution. 21st century New
Orleans debs are modernizing tradition, & moving
forward.
In 1743 the Carnival Balls were established. The
state of Louisiana declared Mardi Gras a legal
holiday in 1857, and Mistick Krewe of Comus
held its first parade. 1874 was a pivitol year, the
king of Rex took his first Queen & a new species
appeared.The New Orleans Mardi Gras
debutante.
From its inception the balls were the venue to
sponsor daughters "coming out". A century ago,
if these debutantes failed to impress a man &
his family, the alternative (to not snaring a
husband at a Cajun cotillion) might have been a
bleak future as a nun, a spinster or a school
marm.
This decathlon of morals, manners & majesty
has its own Fantasy Debutante League, of late.
Maid status rakes in 60 points, & the Queen 200.
Extra points are awarded for extravagant parties
& girls get tally points for side ponytails & toe
rings. Trisha Lockhart Wells & her husband
Mike began this Carnival tracking, which now
includes spreadsheets of information about New
Orleans' debutantes, including recent
information from Facebook.
Evidently, the deb party of the decade
catapolted one young woman, Jane aka "Snow
White" to Fantasy Debs" number one slot. In
2011 she was Queen of Carnival. It was
whispered that it is rare that the parvenues
participate, much less win this coveted title.
Thea Pagel, the event planner for Mary White's
million dollar soiree, in anticipation of her
Queendom, had guets greeted by "little people"
dressed as fairy tale dwarfs & artificial snow
fell from trees. Thea's planning resulted in an
8000 square ft. white magic tent & a gazebo
covered in white feathers.
Lavishly set tables proffered shrimp, stone
clawed crabs, Hudson Valley seared foie gras,
oysters on the half shell & cavier as well as
Billecart - Salmon Brut Reserve Champagne.
Guests passed through a dark forest to the
Queen's Boudoir tent, a seductive tent of sensual
pleasures. A blood red libation was served after
dinner, along with red chocolate candy hearts.
Yes, there is something primal about the
sensuality which imbues New Orleans. Thea
Pagel shared, the goal was for everyone to have
a good time, it wasn't just about excess. As
Donald Trump quips, you have to think any
way so why not think big. These debutante
parties are about a lot more than keeping the
jambalaya hot & the beer cold.
The New Orleans debutante is not just charged
with recalling a lost culture, those good old days
when women were put on a pedestol & lineage
mattered most of all, she is also part of a still
striving one. The secretive, byzantine often
fantastic culture of New Orleans.
Is the trajectory for young women from the
right families shifting from amassing silver
crystal & china to winning at soccer,
independent thinking & embracing careers &
creativity?
Needing to talk to the girls I met Ann at
Auraud's on Royal Street, an ice cream/coffee
shop which was the only place in the French
Quarter without a bar during Mardi Gras
weekend.
Ann was dressed like a New Yorker. In Black.
With black stockings. She had her hair down.
San Beads known as "throws", a tasteful
understated gold lapel pin with gold, green &
purple the only thing about her appearance
which intimated, Mardi Gras. Ann was
divorced two years ago.
She has never remarried. She did go back to
school & obtained her juris doctorate.
She was quick to tell me in her opinion, " a
degree is worth a dozen wedding rings".
She is very much a part of upholding the
traditions of court & upper crust society.
She aspires to be the court trainer for the
ladies, preserving etiquette & propriety, its
her perfect job description.
She Wrote: I remember how much you
admired & were intrigued by the royal
pageantry of Mardi Gras when I made my
debut years ago. It is true that some debs
have remained in traditional roles, like my
twin Carli, a stay at home Mom, while
others like myself, have moved forward &
advanced our careers.
After divorcing, a ten year old son, I went
back to school & got my law degree.
However as a former debutante, I still
love pomp & circumstance of Mardi Gras
& the beauty & pageantry of The Meeting
of the Courts. Only a few are privileged
to carry on the traditions of Kings &
Queens.
The Ball of the future & the Debutants
performances will always be beautifully
breath-taking because our job, past
Debutantes & Krewe members is to
never let our traditions be forgotten.
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Special Features 2017
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Under Construction
2018 Special Features
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