Carnival from A, as in Awesome, to Z in Zulu

It’s a wrap! Carnival 2015 came to a chockablock conclusion on Fat Tuesday with the excitement of parades and balls. Leading approximately 50 floats and multiple units, Zulu king Andrew “Pete” Sanchez Jr. and queen Dr. Janice T. Sanchez garnered tributes right and left. So did Zulu’s legendary characters and court maids. History reminds us of the most famous of the organization’s monarchs: Louis Armstrong in 1949.

On the Friday before Mardi Gras, Zulu holds its annual ball. This year, 21,000 guests hied to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for the gala coronation ball of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, titled “A Salute to the Founding Fathers of Zulu.” In attendance to hail and crown their royal successors, King and Queen Sanchez, were Garren Mims and Georgette Anita Mims of 2014.

Maids to the court were Misses Kayla Clark, Mandye Darby, Katlyn Dawson, Destiny Domengeaux, Cee Elmore, Teraneka Gettridge, Megan Guter, Jessica Hernandez, Ashleyanna Jenkins (the queen’s maid), London Kennedy (the king’s maid), Danielle Ker, Jantae Oates, Ravyn Prevost, Danielle Raphael, Kash’mir Sanders, Jessica Taylor, Erin Temple, Calia Thomas, Leona Trepagnier, Jazman Vappie and Kasia Washington. Darren Mire served as the narrator for the Zulu maids.

Further notables included club President Naaman C. Stewart, Chairman of Carnival activities Dennis Robertson, master of ceremonies Clarence A. Becknell Sr. (Zulu historian and director of public relations), chaplain Rodney P. Mason Sr., and a slew of entertainers featuring the Isley Brothers’ Ron Isley, Fantasia Barrino, Juvenile, DJ Captain Charles and DJ Polo.

Stunning attire bedecked their majesties. The radiant queen attracted every eye in her impressive dress that caught the light through its rich embellishment. The accessories of office, the crown, mantle and scepter, added to her ensemble.

The king’s tunic was made of hot pink velvet trimmed with dark gray feathers and silver appliques. Further features were pink and crystal stones and banding. His collar had silver swirls accented in dark gray feathers and “spears” against a backdrop of hot pink plumes. The center motif was a large gray bird. As for the mantle, it depicted the king’s logo of fierce-looking lions and crossed swords with a shield and a large crown. The background was of hot pink velvet with stones and mirrors.

Credited with the regal outfits was Artistic Creations of Madisonville.

Both Zulu monarchs expressed their delight at the chance to reign. “I was honored and privileged to represent the Zulu organization,” said queen Janice.

Turning back a page in history to the time of the first monarch, the name to know was William Story in 1909. During the ensuing years, war time (World Wars I and II and the Korean War) canceled parades. Thus, the 2015 reign of Pete Sanchez Jr. had a special significance. He added that he was “proud and humbled to represent the Zulu organization as the 100th king.”

A Townsmen Tout

The invitation used white and burgundy in its depiction of a cityscape with the silhouette of a man in front of a series of skyscrapers. The wording said “The Townsmen Inc.” and gave the organization’s dates: 1954-2015.

And so for their 61st anniversary, The Townsmen cordially invited their friends to the annual Cocktail Dansant. Once again, it was held in the Grand Salon of the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel on a Sunday evening during Carnival and is considered a highlight of that time period. Business suits were requested for the tenue of the men, and after-five for the ladies.

Headlining the event as officers were President Charles Kennedy (with guest Laura Lipps), Vice President John C. Charles Jr., Secretary Howard L. Rodgers III (with spouse Belinda), Treasurer James H. Bradshaw Jr. (with Loyce), and, as sergeant at arms and chaplain, Dr. Anthony DeCuir (with Saraphine) and Leon R. Fulton (with Alma). Sidney Fauria Jr. (with Vaughn) and Wayne E. Wright answered, in turn, to dansant chairman and keeper of the seal.

In addition to them, their roster included Carl Baloney Sr. (with Geri), Dr. Joseph Bouie Jr. (with Leslie), Earl S. Brown Jr. (with Michele), Dr. Emmett B. Chapital Jr. (with Jovita), Michael Dukes (with Sylvia), Preston J. Edwards Sr. (with Rosa), Bryan Fulton (with Conchetta), Dr. Roy Marrero Sr. (with Charmaine), Ronald Sholes (with Valerie), Dr. Woodrow J. Wilson Jr. (with Paulette) and Walter F. Wright.

As the Townsmen and their throng milled about, they enjoyed the taste treats provided by the hotel. Food and drinks were a highlight of the evening, as were the musical numbers.

Guests added to the overall joy of the event. Noted were the Clarence Ancars, Dr. Charles and Linda Phoenix, the Wayne DeLarges, Alden and Rhesa McDonald, Edgar and Alva Chase, the David Bocages, the Thomas Hydes, the Charles Webbs, state Sen. Edwin Murray, the Clarence Wilsons, Cornelius and Dr. Karen Lewis, Howard L. Rodgers IV and Dr. Lovie Lewis Rodgers, the Lloyd Dennises, Charles and Vonda Rice, state Rep. Wesley Bishop, St. Charles Parish President Nancy Robottom and the Greg McKnights.

When it was time to dance, the Clark Knighten Band 4x4 rallied the festive forces for such numbers as the electric slide and other line dances. With musical momentum holding forth, almost no one could stay seated.