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For the last 14 years, Chris and I have made an annual road trip to Louisiana to celebrate Mardi Gras. Our good friends, Scott and Kristina, live in Lake Charles, Louisiana. They are members of a Mardi Gras Krewe called Krewe des Amis, which roughly translates to “Crew of Friends.” Every year before Mardi Gras actually starts, their krewe, along with all of the others, have their annual ball. The balls function as a kick off to the Mardi Gras season. Fourteen years ago, they invited us to be their guests at their first Krewe ball. We’ve been going back every year since. This year’s ball was a couple weeks ago. This is our Mardi Gras 2017 trip report.
A Little About the Ball
The Krewe des Amis ball is held each year at the Lake Charles Convention Center. You have your 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 that year’s court. The court is made up of the 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. Scott and Kristina have been on court twice, once as the King and Queen.
On the weekend of the ball, Chris took off on Friday. We left our house at about 10:30, and drove to Chris’ hometown, which is conveniently on the way to Lake Charles. We dropped Boston off for a weekend visit with Chris’ mom. After getting him settled, we continued on our way to Louisiana. We stopped for lunch at Burger King, which we ate in the car as we drove. We got to Lake Charles at about 5:30 Friday evening. Every year, we stay at Scott and Kristina’s house when we are visiting for Mardi Gras. The other out-of-town guests also stay with them. One of the other couples had arrived a few minutes before we did.
After spending a little bit catching up, we all headed to dinner at Wing Stop. The six of us thoroughly enjoyed chatting over dinner. After our wings and beer, we headed back to Scott and Kristina’s house. 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.
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 Scott and Kristina’s house around 9:00 am. We went to the convention center to decorate the table. The theme this year was “Candy.” We were all dressing up as Nerds. Kristina had table decorations that all were nerdy and school-related. After the table was decorated and ready for the night’s festivities, we split up. Kristina went to run some errands, while the rest of us went to Enterprise Rent-a-Car to pick up a 15-passenger van that Scott 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. Scott’s sister met us at the house. When we left the house, we went to pick 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.
Presentation of the Court
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 court is introduced. First, the members of last year’s court make their grand entrance. Then, the captain of the Krewe and his wife are introduced. They come out in full Mardi Gras garb. Usually, they perform a choreographed dance after their entrance. However, this year they changed it up. After they came out, the lights went black. When the spotlight came back on, last year’s court were spread out along the center of the floor. They all danced the “Tootsie Roll” with the captain and his wife. It was great!
Then, this year’s court were introduced. The first couple were the Duke and Duchess of Hard Candy. Next were 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
The band is one who has played the ball for the last few years. They play a wide range of music, but Chris is not impressed with them. During the first band break, a costume contest is held. The members of last year’s court serve as the judges and hand out bottles of Boone’s Farm to the winners. Our group of nerds easily won, partly because Scott’s sister and brother-in-law, along with some very good friends were judges! The bottle of Boone’s was passed around and everyone just drank right out of the bottle. Classy, right?!?!
Everyone spends the rest of the night dancing, drinking, and chatting. I serve as the designated driver for the group. So, it becomes a long night for me. This year, like many in the past, I start cleaning up our table about an hour before the ball ends. This way, when it is over, I can just get everyone loaded up and head home. Finally, at around 1 am, we got all the drunk nerds into the van.
Once we were ready to leave, we had to sit behind another van that was blocking the way while it loaded up its partygoers. They got irritated when I honked at them to get out of the way. Once we got going, this other van was right next to us on the road. Scott kept trying to moon them from the back of the van, but he could never get the right angle. He was very disappointed! After dropping off one couple, we got back to Scott and Kristina’s house around 1:30 pm. It was then off to bed.
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 did stop on the way to pick up Boston. He, of course, was not ready to leave grandma’s house. We got back to our house around 2:30 pm.
We have been going to Lake Charles for the Mardi Gras ball for 14 years now. It is always a fun time. We love getting to spend some time with some of our closest friends. Its also funny to see everyone decked out in their costumes. We can tell that we are not as young now as we once were because the balls are getting harder to do with each passing year. But it always makes for some good times and fun memories. If you ever get the chance to experience a Mardi Gras ball, go! Until then, happy travels!