Founded in 1947, Baton Rouge’s oldest continuous running Carnival organization, the men’s Krewe of Tucumcari, staged its 68th annual ball, “Camelot,” Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Baton Rouge River Center Ballroom.
Red velvet curtains trimmed in gold, and two columns of stonework with hanging stained glass windows framed center stage, creating a castle-like appearance. A fire-breathing dragon, with a 10-foot wingspan, flew over the royal court.
Returning ball Captain Carter Gresham Dean sang the national anthem to open the ball. The tableau began with the presentation of last year’s Royal Court from “The Roaring Twenties.”
Then came the entrance of last year’s King Tucumcari LXVII Neal Johnson. Also returning were Queen Tucumcari LXVII Megan Elizabeth Johnson and maids from the 2014 Royal Court: Morgan Taylor Vicknair escorted by her father, Nestor Vicknair III; Lauren Ashley Duke escorted by her father, Keith Duke; and Carly Elizabeth Vicknair escorted by her father, Galen Vicknair. Maid Jennifer “Jenny” Landry was unable to attend.
The entrance of the 2015 court began with a bit of magic performed by Merlin, portrayed by ball Captain and krewe President Michael Hale Sr., co-owner and founder of Sententia Group.
After the traditional ball captain’s whistle exchange, the 2015 Ball Captain called forth the members of the krewe. Representing Knights of the Round Table and sporting period-inspired cloaks, the members paraded to the tune “Knights of the Round Table” from the musical “Spamalot.”
The tableau began when King Tucumcari LXVIII, Sir Lancelot Robert Hart Chatelain, entered the ballroom in a silver chariot drawn by his loyal attendants, his son, Matthew Hart Chatelain, and his nephew, Griffin Lee Kennedy, son of Gary Lee Kennedy and Margaret Allynn Chatelain Kennedy, Queen Tucumcari XLV of 1992. The king’s mother is LeCarol Cribbs Chatelain and his father, the late Donald E. Chatelain Sr., who was ball captain in 1980 and King Tucumcari XLV in 1992. The king is part of the management team of the family business, Cribbs Inc.
Sir Lancelot was then accompanied by the ruler of Avalon, known as “The Lady of The Lake” portrayed by Marlee Sarah Chatelain as Queen Tucumcari LXVIII. She is the daughter of the king and Angelle Marie Judice and the granddaughter of LeCarol Cribbs Chatelain and the late Donald E. Chatelain Sr. The queen is a senior at St. Joseph’s Academy and has received the Service Award for earning over 50 hours of community service for the three prior years.
Hailed as king for removing Excalibur from the stone, Gary Lee Kennedy appeared as King Arthur. He is the husband of Margaret Allynn Chatelain Kennedy, Queen Tucumcari XLV of 1992, and brother-in-law of the king and uncle to the queen. Also a part of Cribbs Inc., Kennedy is a board member of the Louisiana Cattleman’s Association.
Appearing next was Lady Guinevere Taylor Allynn Kennedy, daughter of Gary Lee and Margaret Allynn Chatelain Kennedy and granddaughter of LeCarol Cribbs Chatelain and the late Donald E. Chatelain Sr. She is a senior at Runnels High School and a member of the Louisiana Tri State Gold Team.
Merlin then brought forth maids of the Royal Court, escorted by their dukes, each representing an element of knighthood of the Round Table.
Maid Michelle Jeanette Bahlinger entered as “the Dragon,” symbolizing courage. She is the daughter of Gerald and Alice Bilisoly Bahlinger, of Mandeville, and granddaughter of krewe member John Lawrence Bilisoly and the late Jeanette Reiser Bilisoly. Her grandfather was her escort. She is a graduate of Mandeville High and is a junior at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.
Amanda Jane Ourso made her debut as “The Quest/Holy Grain,” which was sought by the Knights of the Round Table. Escorted by her father, she is the daughter of board member and 2009 ball Captain Darrell Paul Ourso and Angele Balencie Ourso. She is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy, a sophomore at LSU and a member of Delta Gamma Sorority.
Next on the scene was Molly Martha Landry representing “Friendship and Loyalty.” She is the daughter of krewe member James “Buzzy” and Martha Fuller Landry, of Gonzales. She extended a special welcome to her relatives attending from Texas. She is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy, a sophomore at LSU and a member of Delta Gamma Sorority. Her father was her escort.
Then appeared Kathleen Rachel “Katie” Smith embodying “Truth/Justice.” Escorted by her father, she is the daughter of krewe member David Donald Smith Jr. and Rachele Wilson Smith. She is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy, a sophomore at LSU and a member of Delta Gamma Sorority.
The Royal Court and guests were entertained by Ballroom Dance Company of Baton Rouge, Courtney Black, owner. At the conclusion of the court presentation, the krewe’s Ding-A-Ling Dancers performed with the dance company. Ensemble members and their dance partners were Ken Andries and Courtney Black, Brent Bonfanti and Johanna Collier, Terry Doub and Allison Antie, Johnny Grimmett and Bernadette St. Amand, Steve Langwell and Erin Ortolano, Michael Moore and Lara Vazquez, Duncan Parks and Rachel Podorsky and Norm Pressler and Bonnie Pressler.
Officers of the board of directors are President/Treasurer Michael Hale, Vice President Joey Culmone and Secretary Chester Welch. Board members are Chris Albus, Chad Anderson, Peter Crifasi, Terry Doub, Tim Eagleson, Frank Gordon, Steve Langwell, Michael Moore, Darrell Ourso, John Sanchez, Floyd Simpson and Jay Trahan. Kenneth Andries is the alternate board member. Emeritus board members are Paul Anderson, Ralph W. Holden, Charles Lazare, Thomas C. McKowen IV, Clifton W. Murphy and Dr. Maurice Pomes.
Trey Earle served as master of ceremonies. Court designs were by Carter Church, of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, with costume execution by Masquerade Costumes, of New Orleans. Set design was by Catherine Hale Whitehead and Debra Hale. Carbon Copy provided music for the dance. Krewe photography was by Daria Doyle of Renaissance Gallery. Favors for the ball were a krewe-commissioned sword letter opener from frenchquartermarket.com.