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.
Here to get you in the mood!
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2017 Special Features
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