Back-to-back Carnival balls celebrated the joy of masking and seasonal merriment. Both Hellenistic krewe names started with an “A,” Achaeans and Athenians, and both hailed debutante queens. Miss Courtney Cook Geary, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Cooke Geary, reigned over the former levity and Miss Ellen Claverie Curry, the latter. Last year, those same honors befell, in turn, Misses Jennifer Leigh St. Paul for Achaeans and Lauren LeQuesne Murphy for Athenians.
“Hades and Persephone” titled the tableau presented by the Achaeans at their bal masque in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton New Orleans.
Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, goddess of grain and growth, and Zeus, was abducted to the Underworld by its god, Hades, who bade her eat a pomegranate. Later, an arrangement was made with her captor/husband whereby she could return to Earth for six months out of the year, thus spring. She comes back with flowers, as well as the story of rebirth and harmony. In the fall, she returns to Hades as the Queen of the Underworld.
Another queen became the formal focus as all eyes beheld her majesty Courtney, who was radiant in raiment by Suzanne Perron. Her silk satin gown was overlaid with Italian embroidered tulle beaded in geometric patterns. Jewelry, the organization’s Medici collar and ermine-trimmed mantle, completed the monarchal picture along with the crown and scepter.
Court maids included Misses Patricia McCarthy Beron, Allie McCabe Crane, Caroline Elizabeth Drennan, Margaret Coco Ellis, Carolyn Wood Holtzman, Hailey Burke Housey, Charlotte Lane Langenstein, Laura Elizabeth LeBlanc, Emory Lafaye Lopiccolo, Jamie Favre Pellerin, Marylynn Beatrice Smitherman (the Feb. 6 queen of Dorians), Katherine Larson Thompson and Claire Michelle Zeringue (the Olympians queen).
They were applauded by the royal mother, Wendy Geary, who chose a navy Rene Ruiz gown with an Art Deco zigzag motif. She was in a prominent box seat, as were Mmes. Edwin T. Colton II and III, Newton R. Reynolds, Cyril P. Geary III, Oliver Stanislaus Jr., John Benton Smallpage Jr., St. Denis Villere III, Bryan W. Fitzpatrick, Joseph Mann, Baldwin Montgomery, Edmund Redd, David Gunn Bailey and Ms. Claudia Claverie Carrere.
A number of them took a turn on the dance floor to the music of the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra. Meanwhile, Mr. John Benton Smallpage Jr. served as general chairman of the ball and Mr. L. Noel Johnson Jr., the vice chairman.
Noted, too, were Mmes. John E. Koerner III, Ralph O. Brennan, William Treadway III, James Favrot Geary, Michael J. Bell, William R. Bell, J. Allen Bell, Thomas B. Favrot Jr., Samuel W. Finney, Kevin M. Murphy, William T. Nolan II and Misses Agnes R. “Aggie” Bell and Leighton F. Bell, who reigned as the Achaeans queen in 2013. Several wore the king’s pin, which attested to his love of hunting.
When the formalities of the ball were over, her majesty, the queen of the Achaeans, requested the pleasure of one’s company at the queen’s supper in the Sheraton’s Armstrong Ballroom. The music makers were a 13-member band called Big Blast and the Party Masters, who came in from Atlanta. They played without stopping from 10:30 p.m. until 2:15 a.m. of Saturday’s wee hours.
Said his majesty Odysseus, king of Achaeans, after the hours of Carnival gallivanting, “I could not have asked to share the throne with a more delightful queen than Courtney. She was charming and beautiful. We chatted and laughed, and the ball seemed like it was over in just a few short minutes.” He concluded, adding about his kingship, “It was more fun than I could have ever imagined. I most honored to be chosen.”
Certainly those sentiments were shared by his queen, who summed up their royal experience with “It was just an amazing night.”
With “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead,” a nod to Dorothy and the Land of Oz, as the title for their formal frolicking at the New Orleans Convention Center, the krewe of Athenians purveyed a slew of splendors on a Saturday night at their 106th bal masque.
Headlining the happening was Miss Ellen Claverie Curry, who wore the crown for the organization that had its first queen in 1913. For the organization’s 100th anniversary, the monarch was Miss Emily Elizabeth Clements.
Ladies of the court, the maids to queen Ellen, were Misses Emily Wren Bermudez, Sinclair Winters Burmaster, Caroline Elizabeth Drennan, Ainsley Liesl Fischer, Lauren Marrero Holmes, Hailey Burke Housey, Angelina Silvestry Knister, Sydney Alexandra Lowe, Celeste Edell Perrin and Claire Michelle Zeringue.
Completing the entourage were pages Dudley Carlyle Chandler IV, Thomas Henry Dwyer, Leon Jastremski Reymond IV and Joseph Ross Trask, and princesses Carson Louise Browne, Cecilia Anne Cangelosi, Lillian Claire Charpentier, Gabrielle Marie Dennis, Colleen Marion Lee Fowler, Virginia Elizabeth Gardes, Alyce McCollum Gordon, Emery Cate Reymond, Katherine Kelleher Tober and Ava Leigh Zander.
Mr. Donald O. Collins was the general chairman of the ball with assistance from Messrs. Hilton S. Bell, Emmett A. Smith Jr., Henry C. Schonberg and 10 vice chairmen.
Annie Curry, the royal mother, who wore a taffeta gown by Teri Jon, was joined by Mmes. Rene Curry Jr., Kamran Zaheri, James Reily, John Young, James Young, Bernard R. H. Jacobs, Charles Redfearn, Michael Whealdon, Douglas Dillon and David Quinn.
They were thrilled to see queen Ellen in her Ilaine Hartman-designed royal gown of embroidered silk dupioni. To complete the lovely ensemble, she wore the Athenians’ mantle with a Medici collar and held a sparkling scepter. A crown bedecked her coiffure.
Mrs. Miles P. Clements, the mother of the above centennial queen, Emily Clements, was present, as were Mmes. Joseph M. Rault Jr. and III, Katherine Rault, David Wolford, Bonnie Clements, Kit Garren, Jay Lapeyre, Chuck Lapeyre, Poco Sloss, Michael Christovich and Parker LeCorgne. And, Ms. Yvette Monju, Miss Jennifer Manges, and Mmes. Donald O. Collins, Henry C. Schonberg, Kenneth L. Verlander, Robert C. Hassinger, Justin B. Schmidt, Edwin A, Ellinghausen III, Mark D. Latham, T.J. Semmes Hughs, W. Geary Mason, H. Lee Mason, Stephen H. Schonberg and John A. Hotard.
In addition to Miss Murphy of 2014, former royalty included Misses Caroline Janvier Nelson, Elizabeth Loker Hughs, Ashley Elizabeth Arnold, Rayne Marie Housey, Jennifer Anne Comarda, and Carol Eleanor Salassi. Also, Dr. Jamie Minor, Ms. Bonnie Cahoon, Miss Joyce Marie Delery (organizer of the past queens’ luncheon at Commander’s Palace) and Mmes. Matthew Kaller, Leon J. Reymond III, and James A. Holmes. To mention most, many of whom were in the company of their mothers.
Guests during the ball perused the printed program, which echoed the invitation. Both were designed by Dennis Gerarve, who based them on the 1961 ball at which the 2015 king’s stepfather answered to king.
When the figurative curtain closed, the royals, their court, members and guests headed to the New Orleans Country Club for the queen’s supper in honor of the two monarchs. Deacon John and the Ivories continued the musical momentum that had been started at the ball with the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra. Dancing to Deacon John lured almost everyone to the floor.
Whereas the ball’s tableau bannered “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” memories of this extraordinary evening will be forever alive in the hearts and Carnival memory of the monarchal pair. They were radiant royals.