Two Carnival organizations that parade back-to-back, but hold balls the same night, trace their premier masquerade appearances to 1937, when the Krewe of Hermes held its pageant and tableau ball, hailing Miss Marjorie Lee Smith as queen, and to 1940 when the Knights of Babylon honored Miss Julia H. Peytral as royalty. Under the initial name, the Jester’s Club, Babylon’s establishment date was June 24, 1939.
Flash forward to 2018, Hermes crowned Miss Isabel Rose Coleman, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Dee Coleman, at its gala ball in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The following evening, and in tribute to the tricentennial, the “New Orleans Arts and Letters” parade rolled with the captain leading the peregrination in the Royal Carriage. Concurrent with the Hermes ball, the Knights of Babylon made Carnival merry in the New Orleans Marriott with Miss Maia Elizabeth-Pari Massiha, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Hamid Massiha, ruling with Sargon LXXIII.
Arts and Letters
Titling the program for the beautiful ball at the Hyatt Regency, “New Orleans Arts and Letters” saluted a host of artists and writers who have created works that have both enriched the city and helped shape its unique mystique. Writers would have been in their element as they searched for adjectives to describe the magnificence of Hermes — the bal masqué and the name of the king — and queen Isabel.
Their majesties were attended by court maids Misses Chandler Elizabeth Black, Claire Linnette Crosby, Katy Renee Crosby, Katherine Sophie Diliberto, Mary Catherine Ortemond Franques and Caroline Elizabeth Perlis. Misses Ada Schoen Holmes and Melanie Hayes DeMarcay were the respective bearers of the flowers and the scepter, and Masters Blaise Coleman Garcia, Carter Alexandre Garcia, Javier Francisco Rodriguez, Cooper Jack Rubin, Marshal Christopher Serio, Charles Maitland Smallpage and Jacob Anthony Valentino tended to their duties as pages.
A dozen young ladies in waiting graced the court: Misses Madeleine Rose Adatto, Laura Anne Ortemond Franques, Darby Elizabeth Hayes, Sally Edrington Irwin, Fiona Josephine May, Willow Cabrini May, Cecelia Violet McKay, Lily Marie McKay, Eugenie Elizabeth Montz, Piper Hanley Rubin, Elizabeth Spier Stassi and Anna Elizabeth Watson. Judge Robert M. Murphy was the general chairman of the ball with assistance from Messrs. Andre S. Montz, Raoul P. Rodriguez (Dr.), Robert E. Smith Lupo, Rick S. Rees and H. Britton Sanderford Jr.
Champagne was the first order of the evening. Then, during the program, the ladies of the 2017 court appeared escorted by their fathers with Miss Elizabeth Hale Rodriguez, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Rodriguez, as the returning queen. Significant entrances — the captain, pages, bearers, 2018 maids (escorted by their dukes), and Hermes queen — next took place, all the while dazzling the audience with due pomp. An extra presentation was made to Rear Adm. Paul F. Thomas, USCG. For the music making the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra was tapped, while Manuel Ponce did the invitation and the program.
In attendance was the 50-year queen, Mrs. Patricia F. Simpson, who reigned as Miss Fitzgerald. In 1996, her daughter, Erin Patricia Simpson held the scepter. Additional past queens were Frances Stall Smith, Susan Marie Schoen Holmes, Marina Rodriguez Tumminello, Tessa Martinez, Michelle Montz, Jennifer Van Vrancken Dwyer, Rebecca Elizabeth Murphy Roos, Marjorie Miller Laughlin, Christina Elizabeth Murphy Hayes, Vanessa Van Vrancken, Emily Elizabeth Davis, Katherine Walker Coleman (sister of the queen), Emily Cara Valentino Madeira, Lauren Alexandra Levy, Lisa Long, Brooke Levy, Francesca Lupo, Shelby Sanderford, Anna Elise Reed and Luciana Elizabeth Bertucci.
Her majesty Isabel made a stunning picture in a soft gold gown by Suzanne St. Paul of sculpted horizontal bands of silk tissue lamé layered with metallic tulle and jewel-encrusted swag beading. Her mother was gowned by Mrs. St. Paul, as well, and was joined in box seats by the queen’s sisters, Katherine, Mrs. David Garcia, Mrs. Scott Dunbar and Dr. Amanda Coleman. More family included Mmes. James J. Coleman Jr., Thomas B. Coleman, Thomas K. Winingder and John D. Georges.
Nearby in a teal gown by Royal Design House was Mrs. Lawrence R. DeMarcay III, mother of the bearer of the scepter and of Holly Britcher DeMarcay, a former lady in waiting. And. Mmes. Pat F. Bass Jr., David Gibbons, Kevin Watson, David DeMarcay and Michael DeMarcay.
From the ball, many of the Hermes hobnobbers went to the supper dance with décor by Mardi Gras productions and a meal (salad, redfish and dessert cupcakes) by the host hotel. Jessie’s Girls rocked the revels that had a beaming queen in Isabel and a proud and happy Hermes king.
“The Gifts of the Gods to New Orleans” themed the parade and ball of the Knights of Babylon, which held the Royal Court Reception at Desi Vega on St. Charles Avenue before the 9:15 p.m. tableau ball and the 11 p.m. supper dance, both in the Marriott New Orleans. Guests were delighted with the colorful ball program that had a page of all the floats.
The program also showcased the court, beginning with “Her Royal Majesty, The Queen Maia Elizabeth-Pari Massiha.” Maids to the court were Misses Lynn Marie Hammel, Alona Joy Wideman, Abigail Jordan Anger, Kelsey Corrin Cahill Wideman, Alia Elizabeth Ryan, Mercy Ann Lindell and Sophia Anna Musso.
Ten princesses processed — Misses Hadley Elizabeth Mary, Amelia Rive Mary, Eleanore Reese Hammel, Margaret Sinclair Smith, Reese Riddell King, Bridget Claire Ott, Lillian Clare Brown, Constance Emma Richardson, Abigail Elizabeth Brown, Charlotte Emory Richardson — as did six ladies in waiting, Misses Charlotte Johanna Hammel, Camille Marguerite Hymel, Therese Louise Hymel, Maya Parker Sinclair, Marigny Starr Wicklow and Louise Katherine Hymel. (“I was so proud to have three granddaughters as ladies in waiting,” said Anita Hymel). Masters Avery William Paulin and Jordan Robert Paulin were pages to the queen and Masters William Ray Everitt Jr., Caylan Daniel Sinclair and Strauss Murray Sinclair, pages to the king.
Retired Lt. Col. Robert Brown was the ball’s general chairman with assistance from Messrs. J. Ronald Atchley, Hugh Blair, Larry Byers, Raymond Carreras, Richard Derbes, Douglas Hammel, Buddy Hartle, Michael Haydel, Pendleton Larsen Jr., Wayne Lee, Brandon Mary, Don McMahon, Will Sigl, John Tessitore, and Anton Yrle; and Drs. Timothy Melancon, David Mulnick and Earl Quinn Peeper. The Carnaval! Orchestra led by B.J. Perez III provided the music for the tableau.
Miss Jenna Mintz, the 2017 queen, was noted as were royal predecessors Rosalie Hemphill, Emily Montgomery, Rebecca Montgomery, Jamie Orth, Julie Jaye Jacob, and Mmes. George Wax, Martin Brooks, Samuel Painter, Benjamin Zink, Sean Collins, Douglas Hammel, Michael Seal, Gamon Manne, David Guerra, Jonathan Tournillon and Edward Bergen. More ladies in prominent box seats were royal mother Mrs. Massiha and grandmother Mrs. Audrey Wild, as well as Mmes. Jack Jeff Jacob, Larry Jones, Frank Guidry, Charles Mary, Charlene Sinclair, Randall Smith and Ms. Carra Sinclair. All admired queen Maia in a dazzling gold beaded gown of Alencon lace and the mantle to match Sargon’s.
For the five-hour supper dance, a filet mignon dinner was served and Jubilation and Vince Vance and the Valiants provided the musical menu. For their majesties, Maia and Sargon, the thematic “Gifts” worked both ways. They relished the royal honors given to them, and in turn gave to their court and Babylon audience the bounty of thrilled majesty.