King Paul Major of the Western Territories and Barbarian Queen Mary Jo Kelly welcomed the Krewe of Southdowns to their 28th annual ball Jan. 24 at the Lyceum Ballroom. Ball Captain Sherry Wilkes announced this year’s parade theme of “Phobias.”

Master of Ceremonies Mike Raborn opened the traditional tableau. Flambeaux Captains Gus Wilkes and Thom Harris and Adjutants Frank Vine and Bill Boelens led in the flambeaux carriers with hissing snakes coiled around their torches. Next came Dance Captain Ky Burke and the Dancing Girls, menacingly costumed as spiders.

Parade Captain Greg “No Fear” DuCote ushered in this season’s dignitaries, including parade founders Dr. William Gladney and Mary Gladney; last year’s king and queen, Ross Jahnke and Teresa Donich, and visiting Lyonnesse royalty, King Samuel Shapiro and Queen Hannah Renee Papizan.

All rose as Royal Piper Stanley Masinter’s bagpipes signaled the arrival of the king and queen, preceded by Royal Maids Patricia Woodworth and Alex Woodworth and Royal Pages William Woodworth and Agustin Cuyere. Approaching the Golden Palmetto Throne, Court Wizard Skip Gladney performed the sacred rites certified by Royal Barrister Joe Simmons to conjure good weather for this year’s parade.

Krewe officers John Brunner, Kevin Stuart and John Hogan kept fears at bay as Royal Chariot Maintenance Officer Pat Yglesias reported on improvements to the royal float.

Lord of the Line-Up Phil Adams then initiated the roll call of the krewes, whose toasts to the king and queen exorcised all phobias.

The krewes of Lyonnesse, Romany and DuMonde laughed away the fear of clowns. The krewes of Kritters, Madness, Kaboom and Holla-Peneaux dazzled the fear of the dark. The krewes of Confusion, Duck Busters, Saints Alive and Tailgate zapped fear of thunder and lightning, while the krewes of Voodoo, Woo Hoo, Tiger Train and Fish tamed fears of wild animals. The krewes of Potter, Pecans, Gleaux and Pigs exterminated fears of cockroaches. Finally, the Hula Hoops, the Black Diamond Divas and the Loose Krewe annihilated fears of killer bees.

After the formal presentation of the coveted Southdowns chalice to Loose Krewe, winners of last year’s float competition, the Krewe of Southdowns Catering Consortium led by Elizabeth Delaney and Kate LaBorde served a feast while dancers grooved until the midnight hour to the smoky rhythms of the incomparable Ernest Scott and the Funk Children.