It All Began in 1718

Two beautiful masked balls, occurring back to back in the Royal Tent on the grounds of the New Orleans Country Club with music by the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, celebrated the founding of the City of New Orleans. Reigning first as queen of the Olympians was Miss Brittany Elizabeth Watson, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. Andrew Watson. The following evening, Saturday, Miss Elizabeth Lucy Carter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Glen Stanley Carter, wore the crown for the Caliphs of Cairo. After each glorious gallivanting, suppers followed in the clubrooms.

Tricentennial Tribute

Do you know what it means to love New Orleans? underscored the Olympians ball as it acknowledged the city named after Philippe II, Duke of Orleans (1689-1723), and the language, architecture, culture and traditions of the nationalities who form the population. Three hundred years in the making were celebrated.

Queen Brittany was radiant in a custom-designed gown with a white silk tulle overlay and crystals and pearls as embellishment. Catching every eye, as well, were the maids: Misses Katherine Michelle Bickman, Clare Michelle Brierre, Caroline Renee Christmann, Katherine Lake Fitzpatrick, Riley Marra Kirkpartrick, Sarah Ann McKendrick and Emily Owen Nelson Mendelsohn.

Misses Elizabeth Ann Barket, Adeleine Kathleen Kloor, Lucy Elizabeth Pennebaker, Mary Kyle Ruckert, Elodie Catherine Scafidel, Elise Manon Scafidel, Allie Grace Teague and Isabella Katherine Viellion were the princesses, and Masters Garrison Joseph Franks and Jacob Martin Trask, the pages. All hailed the returning queen of 2017 Miss Catherine Grimm.

Mr. Arthur S. Mann III was the ball’s general chairman and Messrs. George Douglass Jr., Wayne Zeringue, Douglas Tyler, Bret A. Clesi, Stephen A. Schonberg and Charles T. Walsten served as committee chairmen. Five vice chairmen assisted.

Queen mother Courtney Watson wore a gown of chiffon charmeuse with a champagne-colored bodice adorned with sequins and crystals. Joining her in the box seats were royal grandmother Mrs. Vance Watson and Mrs. William Lawhead. Special guests included Mses. Virginia Campbell, Angela Price, Alyson Person and Anna Lee.

Nearby were Mmes. Donald G. Charbonnet, Mann, Michael Daly, Glenn Landrum, Christopher Mann, Ewell C. Potts III, Rene Dupaquier, Tyler, Douglass, John J. Dardis, David Haydel Jr., John Hadden Jr., Paul Kogos, Thomas J. Mitchell, Clesi, Alan Brackett, Stephen H. Schonberg, William Nelson, and Mses. Jennifer Thelen and Yvette Monju. Most wore the Dominique Giordano-designed ball favor of a silver-plated oyster shell pin. The same oyster motif graced the ball’s program.

Mrs. C. Layton Merritt III chose a pale pink organza gown with a pearl and crystal-encrusted bodice. Mmes. Merritt Jr., Charles W. Parish, George Viellion, Michael J. Conway, Lawrence Brown and Gregory Berthelot, who were seated with her, applauded the tableau, titled “300 Years of What New Orleans Stands For,” that Melissa Douglass Steiner wrote.

The queen’s Olympians lineage was celebrated, as well, thanks to mother Courtney Couvillion Watson (maid, 1989), grandmother Marion Blass Couvillion (queen, 1962) and great-grandmother Marion Merritt Blass (maid, 1940). The anonymous king was a third generation monarch: Both his father and grandfather have reigned. More connections occurred at the ball’s conclusion when the acting captain turned over his position to a new one, a second generation captain.

Then it was on to the queen’s supper, where compliments flowed for their majesties and the captains, and ELS set the night to lively music.

The Caliphs visit 'La Nouvelle-Orleans'

On May 7, 1718, a new city was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, named after France’s presiding regent, the Duke of Orleans. Three hundred years later in that city, and at the Caliphs of Cairo bal masque, it was a queen who became the cynosure.

Miss Elizabeth Lucy Carter graced the throne, succeeding Miss Emily Catherine Busse, who appeared in her royal dress of 2017. For her reign, queen Beth wore a gold and white gown by Royal Design House of white lace. Embellishment included clear sequins, gold bugle and seed beads, Swarovski margaritas, lochrosens and rhinestone trim. Her raiment was completed by the Organization’s crown and scepter, as well as a vintage Medici collar and an old gold mantle trimmed in ermine.

Noted in their Carnival finery were queen mother Dorothy Carter, who chose a Marcada taffeta gown by Chris Keller of Baton Rouge (where the Carters live); Mrs. Tim Peterson, Charlene, in a Terani Couture ballgown; and Mrs. Alan Brackett, Linda, in a St. John mode. Having donned monarchal robes in 1968, Mrs. Len Miller, the former Miss Catherine Ellen “Beebe” Ensenat, was presented as the orchestra played “Thanks for the Memories.”

Outfitted in white ballgowns and carrying gold ostrich feather plume fans were the maids, Misses Katherine Michelle Bickham and Sarah Gray duPlantier. Miss Kristina Schwing Bickham, the sister of maid Katherine, was one of the eight ladies in waiting. The others were Misses Elizabeth Mary Coman, Mallory Page Edwards, Mallory Grace Hull, Isabella Michelle Mannino, Gianna Irene Romanos, Caroline Grace Zimmer and Cecelia Frances Zimmermann. They carried Venetian masks and bouquets of pale pink peonies with silver ribbon.

Completing the court were the princesses, Misses Lydia Leontine Anderson, Ainsley LeFebvre Browne, Camille Elizabeth Duncan, Adelaide Kathleen Friel, Virginia Elizabeth Gardes and Emerson Burke Keen, and the pages, Masters Andrew Louis Frey, Philip Murray Lachaussee, Elijah Thomas Perrien and Payton Michael Tauzier. Mr. Bret Alden Clesi was the ball’s general chairman and Mr. Arthur Seldon Mann III, Mr. Charles Tusa Walsten and Dr. Jerry Joseph St. Pierre were committee chairmen. There were eight vice chairmen.

Seated with Mrs. Carter were the Rev. Lynda Anne Carter; Mmes. Michael Robert Dunn, Sean Patrick Joffe, Jonathan Kline, Gordon Anthony Guillera, Oliver Provosty Carriere II, Steven Marius Gonzales, Edwin Charles Gonzales Jr. and Michael Joseph Rotolo; and Misses Olivia Jane Guidry, Elise Catherine Barbin, Addison Rae Hollis, Patricia Ann Baird, Caroline Marie Trammel and Caroline Marie Walsh. Many sported the “sun” motif krewe favor by Tiffany Adler of Adler’s.

Former queens present were Anne Dunlap Honeywell, Marie Adele Lebeuf, Leslie Louviere Keen, Allison Russell Waldron (whose Caliphs flag was flying in front of her home), Lenora Costa Stout, Marianna Barry Boyd, Courtney Echols Boudreaux and Emily Elizabeth Tastet.

Noted, too, were Mmes. Brian Clement, Rene Navarre, Francis Menetre, Alan Mnichowski, Wils Moreau, Donald B. Ensenat, George Edgar White Jr., Paul E. Duncan, Mont Sandles Echols III, Wesley W. Bryan, John Bettes Dunlap III, Samuel M. Rosamond III, Curtis Perrin Rome III, and Rene Sylvain Paysse Jr. And, Misses Betty Laizer, Susan Laizer, Susan Persigo and Samantha Elmer.

“I’m so excited and looking forward to arriving on the ballroom floor, where I’ll see many of my family and friends,” said her majesty at the pre-ball reception held in the Opera Guild Home with catering by Ralph Brennan. Hours later, at the queen’s supper, she received congratulations galore, as did her king. The tables were decorated with glittering gold ribbon, gold and silver jewels, and large bouquets of yellow roses. As he did for the ball, Jimmy Maxwell purveyed the music. Dozens bounded to the floor for the beat and a chance to boogie.