Concurrent Carnival festivity occurred when the Krewe of Hermes and the Knights of Babylon held their masked balls, respectively at the Hilton Riverside and the Marriott New Orleans hotels. Gracing the courts as their majesties were Miss Anna Elise Reed (Hermes), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Marc Leslie Reed, and Miss Miriam Mae Lobrano, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Joseph Lobrano. Last year, the royal roles were filled by Misses Shelby Sanderford (Hermes) and Samantha Montgomery (Babylon). All four queens dazzled in their raiment.
When she appeared, Miss Reed was radiant in a trumpet-shaped gown by Suzanne Perron St. Paul that was made of diamond white netting and ivory silk satin and embellished with medallion patterned lace. The French lace was heavily encrusted with crystals, navettes, beads, sequins and dimensional appliques.
Her mother, Mrs. Reed, wore a blue beaded gown by Adrianna Papell with Art Deco-inspired embellishments.
Terpsichore was tapped for the theme of the ball when his majesty Hermes, having celebrated the first 75 years of gilded pageantry, turned his eyes to Paris in 1909 and The Ballets Russes. The following evening, the Hermes parade developed the theme in its gorgeous floats.
After a champagne reception in the Hilton’s Chemin Royale, guests advanced to the Grand Ballroom, where, to open the pomp, the queen and ladies of the 2014 court appeared, escorted by their fathers. Subsequent activity was the presentation of the national anthem by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the arrival of the Hermes captain, in all his blazing white finery, and the 2015 king, Hermes. The new court and queen elicited a hearty ovation.
Maids to her majesty Anna Elise Reed were Misses Luciana Elizabeth Bertucci, Courtney Kayellen Brock, Caroline Virginia Crosby, Alyssa Rose Cruse, Lucille Anne Harrison and Victoria Lael Slack, while Misses Amelia Baxter Peters and Ella Maxwell Freeman, were in turn, the bearer of the flowers and of the scepter. Completing the court were ladies in waiting Samantha Elan Dugan, Ella Camille Fischer, Riley Elizabeth Gennusa, Lily Renee Giangrosso, Shelby Marie LaSalle, Ellison Shaw Vosbein, and two sets of twins in Anna Grace Heebe and Sarah Louise Heebe and Camille Grace Jacobs and Lily Catherine Jacobs, along with pages James Michael Alvarez, Jacob Thomas Cibilich, Joseph Parks Evans, James Provosty Favor, Benjamin Diego Patron, Benjamin Robert Stassi and Grant Everett Traina.
Judge Robert M. Murphy was the ball’s general chairman with assistance from Messrs. Andre S. Montz, Walter J. Baudier Jr., Raoul P. Rodriguez (Dr.), Anthony J. Capritto III, Robert E. Smith Lupo, Rick S. Rees and H. Britton Sanderford Jr., father of the 2014 monarch.
Hailing their majesties in notable box seats were Margaret Reed, Katy Reed Soong, Katie Reed, Donna Harkins, Tara Condon, Angie Naden, Sally Condon, Emma Condon, Emma Burgess, Mary Grace Richardson, Michelle Perlis Patison (in from Dallas), Suzane Gonce Perlis, Caroline Elizabeth Perlis, Lauren Michelle Perlis, Sharon Perlis, Charel W. Katz, Ginger Olson, Georgie Smith, Bonnie Williams, Joy Alcus, and several past queens, including Frances Stall Smith (1960).
Additional features of the glorious gallivanting included the invitation by Manuel Ponce, the white canvas on the ballroom’s floor, and the supper dance in the Grand Salon with music alternating between the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra (which also played at the ball) and Jessie’s Girls from Atlanta. Well over 1,000 Hermes members and guests reveled in the late night fun, sitting at tables with glorious flowers by Richard Bartholomew of Mardi Gras Productions, and supping on steak.
When all was said and reigned over, her majesty Anna remarked what an honor it was to be the 76th queen of Hermes and that she had the absolute time of her life. She concluded with “I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity, the friendships formed and the joy that it has brought to my family and me.”
Kept a Carnival secret until the day of the ball and parade, the theme always generates a certain suspense. On the Thursday before Shrove Tuesday, and the same evening as the Hermes ball, the Knights of Babylon held forth with hours of excitement. First, there was the parade, titled “Babylon Pantheon,” that made its way on the St. Charles Avenue route, led by the king of Babylon, who is called Sargon and whose identity is not revealed. After the 21-float procession passed, the shift turned to the Marriott’s Mardi Gras Ballroom for the masked merriment. Established in 1939 as the Jester’s Club, the organization held its first ball in 1940 with “Travelogue” as the name and Julia H. Peytral as the queen.
Flash forward to 2015 and the spotlight turn for Miss Miriam Mae Lobrano, who dazzled in a silver beaded gown with a full train and fashioned of French Alencon lace. Swarovski crystals and Austrian rhinestones trimmed both the neckline and empire waistline and additional rhinestones studded the entire royal dress. As did her Hermes counterpart, her regal accessories included a sparkling Medici collar, scepter and crown. The traditional Babylon collar was of silver lace and trimmed with pearls and rhinestones and embellished with large teardrop crystals. Her white velvet mantle, which matched that of Sargon LXX, was bordered with ermine and richly embroidered with gold and silver sequins and sparkling jewels outlining the Babylon crest.
Maids of the Royal Court included Misses Emma Theresa Martello, Alexandra Rachel Petrasek, Alley Claire Wheelis, Morgan Nichole Ballard, Rebecca Lee Wheelis and Jacqueline Leigh Siegmund, while a foursome, Misses Addie Rose Alexander, Joycelyn Carol Miller, Erin Catherine McCleery and Sydney Claire Leopold, beamed as princesses.
Completing the impressive picture were ladies in waiting Misses Hadley Elizabeth Mary, Emily Grace Persich, Abigail Elizabeth Brown, Eva Meriel Cohen, Lillian Claire Brown, Sadie Brandt Cohen, Ayushi Purohit and Kay Genevieve Frederickson, as well as five pages: Masters Gabriel Brandt Alexander, Rodrek Emilio Williams II, Leo Pipes Abraham, Callen Shea Hale and Hudson Grant Hale.
Retired Lt. Col. Robert A. Brown was the general chairman of the ball and Mr. J. Ronald Atchley, the vice general chairman. The committeemen were Messrs. Amos Cormier, Samuel Jacob, Richard Derbes, Robert M. Geraci, Michael J. Haydel, Jack P. Rizzuto, Will Sigl, John A. Tessitore and Anton P. Yrle, along with Kenner Mayor Michael S. Yenni and Drs. Timothy A. Melancon, David M. Mulnick and Earl Quinn Peeper.
As guests perused their program, which had the title “Babylon Pantheon” on the cover, they looked within to see a layout of the parade with each float drawn in color and depicted quite small. Recalling that “Babylon” means “the Gates of the Gods,” the theme harked back to the time of deities and creatures from ancient Babylonian times. The floats were designed by Henri Schindler, and Sargon LXX led the parade on his mule-drawn throne. The notables of the Royal Court Reception viewed the parade at Desi Vega’s Steakhouse on St. Charles Avenue before the beckoning of the ball.
Ladies noted at the ball included the royal mother Judge Joy Lobrano (outfitted in a lace gown by Carmen Marc Valvo), Miss Julie Jacob, Dr. Mignonne Mary Hammel, and Mmes. Jack Jeff Jacob, Larry Jones, Frank Guidry, Charles Mary, Elbert Wheelis, Michael Seal and Gamon Manne. Including last year’s Samantha Montgomery, there were 16 former queens in attendance. Quite a few admired the handsome gold krewe favor done by India Stewart. All turned an ear to the ball’s music makers, B.J. Perez and his Orchestra Carnavale.
In the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, further festivity ensued, thanks to the gala supper dance held in honor of her majesty and her court. A seated, four-course dinner fueled the midnight togetherness, while the music of Jubilation! got folks to the floor until 4 a.m.
As a royal reflection, queen Mae expressed how honored and grateful she was to be a part of the Knights of Babylon and how happy she was to share the experience with the Make-A-Wish ambassador Kathryn Jo Gardner, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kyle Gardner of Slidell, who viewed the parade from the grandstands. “We had the time of our lives together.”