Names of Thrones
The shepherd of the ocean in Greek mythology, Proteus, possessed the gift of prophecy and the ability to change his shape. In the palindromic year of 1881, he was “shaped” in the Crescent City into the Krewe of Proteus. A year later, the first pageantry and tableau ball was presented. As a parading organization, Carnival’s second-oldest one after Rex, Proteus claims the distinction of parading in three different centuries.
Founded in 1912, the Krewe of Mystery is known for its profusions of red roses, which grace the stage area at the balls. And then go home with the ladies. In Carnival’s waning days, both Mystery and Proteus staged elaborate masked balls, each with a travel theme and radiant queens.
Mystery on the Orient Express
Agatha Christie was surely smiling from Beyond at the recent ball, staged in the Orpheum, when the krewe marked its 108th year with “Mystery on the Orient Express,” a theme carried out in the invitation, program, clever tableau, krewe favor and king’s pin. Occurring on the Wednesday before Mardi Gras, Mystery hailed Miss Caroline Louise Chunn, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Keith Chunn, as queen. She succeeded Miss Julia Anne Charbonnet, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Taylor Charbonnet. Germaine La Branche reigned first in 1912.
Court maids to queen Caroline were Misses Kennedy Kathleen Cameron, Margot Louise Childs, Caroline Marie Kurzweg, Lauren Lee Paysee (the recent monarch of Caliphs of Cairo), Carlisle Frost Rieveschl, Adeleigh Elizabeth Smith, Elizabeth Colon Toso and Katherine Elizabeth Verlander. Several descend from Mystery royalty.
Four trainbearers, all with first names starting with “C,” attended the queen: Misses Caitlin August Brennan, Catherine Elise Griffith, Caroline Ann Kogos and Charlotte Elizabeth Lemaire. The pair of pages were Masters Jonathan Sporl Breaux and Thomas Jennings Hotard. They were on stage with the Mystery king when the curtains opened after the tableau. The rose-vine throne was flanked by eight tall urns with magnificent roses.
Suzanne St. Paul created the queen’s gown, which was made of double silk satin, artfully beaded and featured the organization’s rose motif. Encrusted leaves and flowers framed the neckline, while tiers of embellished lace layered the trumpet silhouette. Gracing her neck was a necklace loaned from her majesty of 2017, Eleanor Masinter. Jenny Chunn, the royal mother, was also gowned, in teal, by Suzanne St. Paul.
Royal grandmother Mrs. Don E. Chunn was seated with the queen’s mother, as were Mmes. Shaun B. Rafferty, David Christopher Tidmore, Daniel Simone, John J. Broders, W. Brooks Emory and Charles M. Lanier Jr. Also, Dr. Margaret Pelitere, Katherine Simone and Chloe Pelitere, in one of the evening’s prettiest ballgowns. The above Katie Rafferty, a royal aunt, was the artist for the invitation and program.
Nearby were Margaret Martin and Mmes. Alan Guy Brackett, Alvin A. Baumer, Katherine Determan, Michael D. Moffitt, Lawrence Ozenberger III, Jerry J. St. Pierre, David Weidner, H. Mark Adams, Edward H. Bergin, Richard Kingsley Blum, Philip S. Brooks Jr., William Manley Hines, Paul James Masinter, James H. Reily, Robert F. Spencer, William Courtade Carrere and John C. Calhoun. Several were mothers of former queens. All applauded the 2019 royal twosome.
Catching the spotlight, as well, was her majesty of 1969, Mrs. Bruce H. Thompson, Carol Anne Carrere, whose family has had four generations of Mystery queens. She was joined by Mmes. John V. Lovoi, Michael H. Schmidt, Todd C. Thompson and Jefferson G. Parker.
Both before and after the Ball of the Roses, socializing took place: First at the Chunn home with a massive archway of papier-mache roses by Katie Rafferty, and later at the New Orleans Country Club for the Queen’s Supper with florals by Meade Wenzel, a slew of taste treats, and rollicking music until 2 a.m. by Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters. “Magical” and “fun” were two of the adjectives used by the queen and anonymous king to describe their glorious experience. Hercule Poirot would have concurred there was no mystery about that.
“Travel and Treasures of the Silk Road” titled the oldest nighttime parade in the city, that of the Krewe of Proteus, which, post peregrination, celebrated its 138th anniversary with a bal masque at the Marriott Hotel on the eve of Shrove Tuesday. Spearheading the glorious activity was the 11th captain of Proteus and his multi-hued lieutenants.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of Proteus members, family and friends, gathered at Antoine’s for the fabled, and always fun, luncheon. Hours later, beautiful decorations by Royal Artist and more culinary experiences awaited those who partook of the “Delicacies of the Deep by his Royal Chefs” at the hotel. That invitation, the one for the ball and the program (which depicted the 2019 parade’s gorgeous floats) were all replete with color and evocative of the theme. The stunning, bejeweled camel krewe favor caught every eye.
More magnificence came with her majesty and her queenly allure. Holding the scepter was Miss Ellen Heidingsfelder Silvia, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Charles Paul Silvia Jr. Last year, Miss Layne Watkins Nalty, daughter of Mr. Morgan Shaw Nalty and Ms. Jill Knight Nalty, wore the crown.
Maids to queen Ellen, also Ellie, were Misses McAlister Wynn Brewer, Emma Marks Conroy, Grace Allen Gambel, Katherine Randolph Jacobs, Kristina Britt Johnsen and Olivia Claire O’Keefe. During this recent season Misses Conroy, Gambel, Jacobs and Johnsen reigned, respectively, at Athenians, Atlanteans, Mithras and Rex. Masters Francis Rivers Lelong III and Ernest Burton White IV were the dutiful pages.
The musical scintillation was by the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, which also played at the Mystery ball.
Then there was the sartorial scintillation. Designed by Kathleen Van Horn, the queen’s gown was of imported silk duchess satin. The front and back panels, both heavily embellished, were overlaid with an embroidered netting featuring patterns of starfish, seahorses and aquatic motifs. Framing her shoulders and smiling face was the glittering collar, a new one, built by Royal Design House.
Molly Silvia, the queen’s mother, wore a two-piece ensemble by the same couturiere that consisted of a gown in a graphic print topped with a floor-length evening coat of red silk faille. Red is the Proteus color. Among those joining Mrs. Silvia in applauding all the delights were Mmes. Lawrence Noel Johnson Jr., Gerard Walter Barousse Jr., Clark Mayo Barousse, Joseph Lloyd Fine Jr., Gary Hyder Brewster, Kimberlin Price Butcher, Michael J. Bell, Christian T. Brown, Edouard James Kock III, Joseph Storey Charbonnet, Cooper A. Manning, James J. Reiss Jr. and III, Thomas E. Beron, Robert H. Saer, H. Merritt Lane III, Joseph S. Mann Jr., Vance G. Reynoir, Alfred W. Brown III, Patrick A. Talley Jr., William H. Hines, Blair F. Scanlon, William H. Langenstein III, R. Parker LeCorgne, Matthew P. LeCorgne, Devereaux P. Moring, William G. Gambel Jr. and David G. Bailey. And Jeanne Rene Barousse, Aimee Green Barousse and Jane H. Heidingsfelder, a former Proteus monarch.
Revelry prevailed at the Queen’s Supper, where choice breakfast foods energized the gathering for grooving to the show band BRW.
Queen Ellen, along with dozens of royal ladies during the 2019 Carnival season had amazing experiences that they enjoyed with their families, friends, kings and hosting krewes. Their reigns will be indelible in their memories and echoed, no doubt, in the words of Ellen, “I wish I could do it all over again.”