The Majesty of Monarchs
For the tricentennial of the Crescent City, the Krewe of Proteus — it came to Carnival light in 1881 and is the second-oldest parading organization and the oldest nighttime one — the parade theme, “Les Graces des dieux pour la Nouvelle-Orleans” hailed the generosity of divine. Proteus held a celestial festivity, inviting gods from the four corners of the Earth, and from history, to celebrate the 300 years.
Before the parade, krewe members enjoyed lunch in the Large Annex of Antoine’s Restaurant, founded in 1840. As the hors d’oeuvre selection, there were pommes de terre soufflees with filet de boeuf as the main course. (At that point, the name of the king was known by a number of guests, who roundly congratulated him.) Then it was on to the beautiful 20-float parade. Float three was titled “The Dawn of Proteus” and the ultimate one, “Comus,” paid homage to the Greek god of revelry and one of the many gods who have bestowed gifts on the city of New Orleans during the tricentennial. The ball was at the Marriott Hotel.
The gift of monarchy was bestowed on Miss Layne Watkins Nalty, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Shaw Nalty. Her court maids were Misses Caroline Baily Acomb, Jane Talley Hodges, Charlotte Worley Huger and Sarah Jane Holbrook Freeman, respective 2018 queens of Twelfth Night, Atlanteans, Mithras and Carnival (Rex, the next day). Reigning in 2017 was Miss Mary Dalton Acomb, cousin of the above Caroline (and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Ryan Acomb), and, in 1968, Miss Katherine Clark, who reappeared at the gala ball. Her married name is Mrs. Spalding Kenan Manson III.
Mr. James J. Reiss Jr. served as the ball’s general chairman. Assisting as vice chairmen were Messrs. Alfred W. Brown III, Louis M. Freeman (a former Rex and grandfather of the above Sarah Jane), Louis L. Frierson (a former Rex), William H. Langenstein III, Blair F. Scanlon Jr. and Patrick A. Talley Jr. The Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra played.
Suzanne St. Paul designed the gown for queen Layne. Diamond white Italian silk satin layers with three uniquely beaded and artfully placed guipure lace patterns were among the features of the regal robe, as was an art deco shell pattern. A jewel-encrusted Medici collar and dazzling crown and triton scepter completed her royal ensemble.
Queen mother Jill Nalty wore a custom design by Yvonne Counce. She figured in prominent seating, as did Miss Morgan Elizabeth Nalty and Mmes. Lawrence N. Johnson Jr., Richard L. Simmons, Kimberlin P. Butcher, Cyril P. Geary III, Thomas D. Westfeldt II, William H. Hines, E. James Kock III, James F. Geary, Clayton C. Geary, Jeffrey S. Geary, Thomas G. Diano, Edward C. Gleason, James J. Reiss III, Jefferson G. Parker, Christian Trousdale Brown, and Robert P. LeCorgne.
All applauded the pages, Masters Howard Chapman Gleason and James Joseph Reiss III, who were thrilled to ride on the king’s float.
More ladies invited to prominent seats were the wives of the committeemen, Mmes. Brown, Freeman, Frierson, Langenstein, Scanlon and Talley, as well as Mmes. Bruce H. Thompson, Michael J. Bell, and Hardy B. Fowler Jr. Noted, too, were the 1968 and 2017 queens.
The Queen’s Supper in the Marriott, featured petit dejeuner fare: croissants, bacon, scrambled eggs. Milling about were dignitaries, including the Proteus captain (the 11th in its history) and the monarchs’ nearest and dearest. Musical Fantasy made the dance floor jump.
When all was said and regally ruled, queen Layne reflected on her monarchal moment. “It was such a special night, and I couldn’t have asked for a better Proteus (the name for the king) or court to share it with. A night I will always remember.” And with a godly conclusion, a Carnival “Amen.”
Anyone who has ever viewed the classic film, “Casablanca” (and who hasn’t?), will never forget the line “Play it, Sam,” connected with the song, “As Times Goes By.” For the Krewe of Mystery, the Katie Rafferty-designed program recalled pianist Sam in Rick’s nightclub in Casablanca. While Sam tickled the ivories, a king and queen, in full regalia, sat nearby, smiling at him. At the 107th Ball of the Roses, which was held in the Orpheum Theater, “Mystere a Casablanca” was the theme and guests were thematically transported to that city in Morocco.
Coming to life from the program was the Mystery queen, Miss Julia “Julie” Anne Charbonnet, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Taylor Charbonnet. Her royal lineage with Mystery comes from great-grandmother Miss Kathleen Denechaud (1931), later Mrs. John Taylor Charbonnet, and aunt Lynne Stafford Charbonnet (1992), Mrs. David Cartan Loker Gibbons Jr. Last year the crown was worn by Miss Eleanor Grace Masinter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul James Masinter.
The first maid was Miss Caroline Bailey Acomb, the Twelfth Night queen and sister of the 2011 monarch, who ruled as Miss Margaret Sharp Acomb. Their parents are Mr. and Mrs. Dwight LeBlanc Acomb.
Maids to queen Julie (and some of their crowns this past season) were Misses Whitney Caroline Appel, Bailey Elizabeth Batt (Athenians) Katherine Michelle Bickham (Prophets of Persia), Alysse Elizabeth Burvant, Caroline Renee Christmann, Elizabeth Macon Hamrick, Elizabeth Allen Texada Hotard (Dorians), Riley Marra Kirkpatrick, Sarah Ann McKendrick and Michelle Marie Yacoubian.
The trainbearers were Misses Virginia Lyle Capshaw, Lyla Dayton Gordon, Gabriella Anne Jensen and Laine Campbell Schreiber; and the pages were Masters William Mitchell Long and George McKay Pipes.
When she arrived on the ballroom floor and dazzled her appreciative audience, queen Julie was escorted by her father and Messrs. William Manley Hines, the general chairman of the ball; Donald O. Collins; and Henry C. Schonberg. She caught every eye in a white lace and silk gown by Royal Design House with beading and rhinestones all over. The royal look was completed by her majesty’s own jewelry, a glittering crown and scepter, the organization’s Medici collar and Dior red mantle.
Adrianna Papel was the designer of queen mother Shirley Charbonnet’s crimson Mikado satin strip gown. She, as did others, enjoyed the ball favor, a pendant/pin by Adler’s depicting a playful monkey (recalling the cover of the program and the monkey atop the piano wearing a fez and holding a red rose) and the king’s pin of a playing card.
A highlight of the ball was the appearance of the blue-gowned, 50-year queen, who held the scepter as Miss Suzanne Carrere and is now also Mrs. David Robert Boyd. She and her majesty Julie are both members of families with four generations of Mystery queens, unique to Mystery.
Noted, too, were royal sister Miss Helen Denechaud Charbonnet and grandmother Mrs. Michael Denechaud Charbonnet, and the above Mrs. Gibbons. Also, Karen Baltar Reily, Eugenie Cecile Whealdon (the Momus queen), Kathleen Pierce Gibbons (the 2017 Squires queen), Jocelyn Anne Hallaron, and Mmes. Michael Quigley Keegan, William Stewart Hammond, John Denechaud Charbonnet, Peter Carey Schaumber, William Joseph Goliwas, Andre Wogan, Morrison Curtis Bethea, David Barr Gooch, Charles Taylor Walet and Maurice John Hartson III, who reigned 60 years ago as Miss Joan Denechaud Walet.
Still others were Miss Erin Curry Reily (a past monarch of both Harlequins and Athenians) and Mmes. James Harrington Reily, Rene A. Curry Jr., Kamran Zaheri, Edward Begnaud, Charles Redfearn, Richard Passler, Paul Friedlander, Otto Briede, Donald Stewart Douglas, Pierre Legrand, Stephen Hansel, Richard Williams, H. Mark Adams, Mark Philip Pierce Adams, and Paul James Masinter. They danced to the music of the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, led by Robert Maxwell.
Flanking the ball were the Queen’s Reception at the Orleans Club and the Queen’s Supper at the New Orleans Country Club. There, mantels and tables were adorned with red roses, a traditional breakfast buffet and cheeseburger sliders sated the crowd, and rollicking sounds by Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters caused lively boogieing until 2 a.m.
“Magnificent beyond my imagination,” and “A truly wondrous evening shared with my lovely and affable queen” were the comments of the majesties after the festive fact. Both sentiments will never cease, as time goes by.