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Parades, beads, and parties. These are the things most people think of when they think of Mardi Gras. But, to locals, Mardi Gras is so much more. It’s more about community, culture, and krewes.
Our good friends are members of a Mardi Gras Krewe in Lake Charles, Louisiana. For many years, we have joined them at their annual krewe ball to celebrate Mardi Gras.
Over the years, we have come to learn firsthand what Mardi Gras is all about. This is the story of our 2017 Mardi Gras trip.
A Little About the Ball
Every year before Mardi Gras actually starts, krewes have their annual balls. These balls function as a kick off to the Mardi Gras season.
Each krewe takes a little bit different approach to the ball. Krewe des Amis, which is the krewe our friends are in, holds theirs at the convention center each year.
Krewe des Amis gives you a choice of dress for the ball: costume or black tie. This makes for a random mix once the ball gets going! Each year, the ball has a theme, and the costumes need to fit the theme.
Each couple on the krewe is allowed to invite three other couples to the ball. The member couples are each given an 8 foot table at the ball that they are responsible for decorating.
Additionally, each couple is also responsible for bringing in their own food for them and their guests. The members can either bring their own alcohol, and pay a corkage fee, or buy drinks at the ball.
During the ball, the Krewe introduces the year’s King and Queen of the Krewe, as well as 2-4 other couples that are designated as Dukes and Duchesses.
These couples are the people that will ride on the Krewe’s float during the Mardi Gras parades. It is an honor to be selected to be on court.
Our friends have been King and Queen and Duke and Duchess before.
The Day Before the Ball
In 2017, we drove to Lake Charles on Friday, the day before the ball, after dropping our son off at grandma’s house. We arrived in Lake Charles at about 5:30 Friday evening.
We always stay at our friends’ house during Mardi Gras weekend, as do the other out-of-town guests.
Once we got there, we caught up for a little while before dinner at Wing Stop. After dinner, We hung out the rest of the night at their house. It’s always good to have the night before the ball to be a low-key one.
I called it a night and headed to bed around 11:00 pm. Chris stayed up later. I’m not sure what time he finally came to bed.
The Day of the Ball
Saturday morning, I woke up way too early. By 6:30, I was wide awake! I took advantage, though, and jumped in the shower before anyone else was awake. After a while, everyone was up and ready for the day.
We left our friends’ house around 9:00 am and went to the convention center to decorate our table. The theme this year was “Candy.” We were all dressing up as Nerds.
Our table decorations were all were nerdy and school-related. After the table was decorated and ready for the night’s festivities, we picked up a 15-passenger van that our friends had rented for the night.
After getting the van, it was time for our traditional Mardi Gras lunch: Darrell’s! There is nothing better than a Darrell Special to start the celebration!
Once we finished up lunch, we went back to the house for another mandatory pre-ball activity: a nap! I would not be able to make it through the entire ball without a nap!
After my glorious nap, it was time to get our nerd on! Chris and I went as Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory, while everyone else opted for more stereotypical nerd outfits.
We picked up one additional couple in the van before heading to the convention center. I’m sure that a van carrying 11 adults decked out as nerds was quite the sight!
The Mardi Gras Ball
As I said above, the dress code for this ball is either black tie or costume. So, it is not unusual to see a lady in a formal gown talking to another lady dressed in a tutu and pigtails.
Because the theme this year was “candy,” the costumes included trick-or-treaters, baseball players, conversation hearts, and chocolate bunnies. Some people get very creative with their costumes.
The Festivities Begin
The first hour or so of the ball is a buzz of activity. The lights are all on and people are mingling. This is a great time to check out the various table decorations and costumes, eat some food, and take pictures.
At 7:00 pm, the front doors are locked and the lights go down. This is when the ball’s royalty are introduced.
The first couple were the Duke and Duchess of Hard Candy. Next came the Duke and Duchess of Soft Candy. Third were the Duke and Duchess of Chocolate.
Lastly, the King and Queen made their entrance. The court then promenaded around the ball throwing beads amid a confetti storm.
After that, it was time to dance!
Dancing and Costume Contest
After the formal events of the evening, the band starts playing music and the dancing begins.
During the first band break, a costume contest is held. The judges hand out bottles of Boone’s Farm to the winners. Our group of nerds easily won, partly because we knew some of the judges!
The bottle of Boone’s was passed around and everyone just drank right out of the bottle. Classy, right?!?!
Everyone spent the rest of the night dancing, drinking, and chatting. I always serve as the designated driver for the group. So, it becomes a long night for me. Finally, at around 1 am, we got all the drunk nerds into the van.
The Day After the Ball
Chris and I got up pretty early on Sunday. We had a long drive back home and a lot of stuff to do once we got home, so we packed up and headed out around 8:00 am. Everyone else was still asleep when we left.
Luckily, Chris was in good enough condition that he was able to drive most of the way home. We stopped on the way to pick up our son. He, of course, was not ready to leave grandma’s house. We got back to our house around 2:30 pm.
Mardi Gras is always a fun time. We love getting to spend some time with some of our closest friends. It’s also funny to see everyone decked out in their costumes. It always makes for some good times and fun memories, which is what Mardi Gras is all about!
If you ever get the chance to experience a Mardi Gras ball, go! Until then, check our best family-friendly things to do in Louisiana. Happy travels!
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