Wednesday, February 13, 2013
MEETING THE MAYOR AND A ROYAL GALA
Lake Charles Mayor, Randy Roach, listens to Jim explain what he liked or didn't like about Lake Charles and/or Louisiana. What we knew about Mayor Roach before we met was that everyone likes the guy. He is very much a people person and really gets involved in the community. We talked for 45 minutes about our life-style and impressions, and his philosophy of governing. He likes to see money put into infrastructure of the city that benefits families, not any fancy buildings or glittering trappings of office. He is very proud of the city parks. Located in neighborhoods so they are very available to everyone because he believes they invite wholesome activities for children. The Mardi Gras itself, involves families and children. We notice that theme over and over in Lake Charles. He gave us a great overview of Lake Charles' strategic location in Southern Louisiana. All roads lead to Lake Charles for jobs,arts, business and quality of life. In fact, we met two couples who came to visit and decided to move here. That speaks volumes. Mayor Roach served two terms in the State Legislature before his 12 years as Mayor. (He didn't tell us that.) We left with the keys to the city.
We attended the Royal Regalia with Renola Simon. Each Krewe has their own ball, by invitation only, to see the marvelous costumes. The regalia is a promenade for the community to see the beauty of the Royals. The young royals were introduced first and seated to witness the adult Kings and Queens promenade . Leading the first Queen was none other than Mayor Roach. I think she has a title other than the Krewe be- knighting of their royals, but it is a learning process and I'm not sure how everything is done.
This is an overview of this huge building and the promenade. The young royals are seated to the stage on the left to watch each Krewe promenade. They have attendants who quickly roll up their long trains so they do not get stepped on as the promenaders exit on both sides of the stage. Then they roll the trains back out again. It was mind boggling. Queens Elizabeth and Beatrice have nothing on Louisiana's royalty, aye! In fact, when Queen Elizabeth attended Mardi Gras, she was invited to a private ball. She with others paraded before the Krewe Queen. She stood, used to having people bow in her presence. She quickly bowed to the Krewe Queen, who then got up and bowed to her.
The hall has rotating spot lights making picture-taking very difficult. If you get a decent shot, the timing, the movement, the distance for us, high in the bleachers, it is mostly luck. So, you are going to see some blurry photos.
This was the clearest photo I took all night. With about 50 Krewes, they move very quickly on to the next Krewe in line. Renola's Cajun Krewe did not enter the regalia this year. Their queen is chosen by whomever gets the slice of King Cake with the baby in it. Most Krewes vote for their King and Queen. Renola explained that each of those feathers costs $35 each.
Not all of the Kings and queens have elaborate feather head dresses, but most of them do. Just look at their head gear. You have to have a special closet to store these costumes.
Another beautiful head dress.
The kings and queens for 2014 will be chosen right after Mardi Gras so they can budget for their costume, design, and chose it. Most of them are now professionally designed and made. Renola, who is 80 years old, has been Queen for her Krewe twice. She made her own costumes.
There is much color to the promenade, but I noticed most of the Kings and Queens wore white. Aren't they gorgeous?
Equally gorgeous are the 12 to 15 foot long trains.
Not all Krewes are big. Some new Krewes are small and are made up of family members only.
For many couples, their social life revolves around their Krewe.
The Krewe chooses their music for their promenade and some is jazzy, some is rock and some is krazy. All fun.
Several Krewes concentrate on the Chicken Run part of Mardi Gras.
New this year, to many oohs and ahhs was a lighted costume. Quite the feat.
This King and Queen costume is once again as tall as the person wearing them. Fantasy in bloom.
Then there are the gargantuan costumes that are 8 to 12 feet tall. These are not king and queen regalia. They put them on the promenade to show these magnificent costumes for our enjoyment.
These are very challenging to carry, as well as build. Some take 4500 hours, according to Renola.
These speak for themselves. Such a deal!