|So what is it,
Each year, approximately 2000
Louisianians descend on the
nation's capital to lobby their
Congressmen, visit with old
friends and network with the
next batch of 22-year-olds who
are really running the country.
It's put on by a profoundly
disorganized group called the
Mystick Krewe of Louisianians,
Inc.--a group so challenged in
the art of organizational
behavior that I'm proud to be a
Actually, it's one of the few
associations from Louisiana
that I've been able to keep up
over the years. For five days,
we eat too much, drink way too
much and meet far too many
new people than we'll ever be
able to remember.
|Being a member of the krewe is
hard work. (OK, it's harder than
sitting on your couch on
Saturday night, but that's about
it.) For one thing, members of
the krewe have to sit on the
floor of the Hilton Ballroom for
about forty-five minutes, while
the debutantes are presented.
That really wears out a
But there is a way to get out of it.
You can sign up to escort one of
the queens or debutantes.
(Escorting is probably
overstating the case.
Essentially, you're holding up a
sign with their names on it. )
The advantage is that you get to
sit backstage (see photo), drink
and talk to beautiful young
I particularly like to carry the
signs for queens of Louisiana
festivals. Last year, I carried the
sign for the queen of the
Orange Festival in Plaquemimes
Parish, who was the daughter of
my friend Jiff Hingle. I didn't
know anyone this year, but
because I LOVE the Christmas
Festival in Natchitoches, I
signed up the carry the sign for
their queen. In honor of the
Christmas Festival, I discarded
the hat that went with my
costume and wore a Santa hat
instead. If I may say so myself, I
I wish this picture of my queen
and me was more in focus, but
that's what happens when you
let somebody else take the
|Sally and I have got to the point where we had to keep a schedule of ten-plus events (costume
fittings, receptions, dinners, lunches, meetings, balls, etc.) that we needed to attend each day. By
Saturday, it was starting to wear me down. After some reflection, I decided that it's not possible that
I'm getting older or that I'm drinking too much. It must be the altitude in Washington DC.
Some people say that DC is actually closer to sea level that Jackson or Baton Rouge, but I'm pretty
sure that can't be true. It's the altitude.
I've been going to the Washington Mardi Gras
for a few years now, but I haven't done much to
record what happens there. This is a feeble
attempt to try to provide a glimpse into what
goes in to it.
Five days of enforced merriment begins on
Wednesday,with the "Oyster Party" thrown by
the Louisiana Seafood Promotion Board . It's
held at a Cajun restaurant on New York Avenue
called Acadiana, and it's really the first
opportunity to renew old acquaintances and lay
plans for the days ahead.
Things start to lurch into a higher gear on
Thursday. The Louisana flag is unfurled
outside the Washington Hilton (it was right
outside our hotel window this year), and the bar
in the lobby changes its name (for the next four
days) to The 65th Parish.
Even though I'm the one in the krewe, Sally is
usually much busier than I am during DC Mardi
Gras. Thursday is generally the last day that
we're able to get out of the hotel and see
something of the city. This year, we spent
Thursday afternoon over a leisurely lunch at
Haley Barbour's restaurant and a
three-and-a-half hour visit to the Newseum
(right), the museum of the news media. If
you're planning a visit to Washington and you
haven't seen it, I recommend it to you without
reservation. It has great exhibits featuring the
Berlin Wall, 9/11, all of the Pulitzer Prize winning
photographs--and a great view of the Capitol,
right) We thought we'd spend about an hour
there, but three-and-a-half hours went by in a
flash, and could have stayed longer.
That night was the first "official"
event--Louisiana Alive (right), a free party at the
Hilton featuring Louisiana music, food and
I'm sorry to say that I did not
leave the hotel between
Thursday night and Sunday
afternoon. I'm not
complaining, but that's how
packed the schedule is.
The main event on Friday is
the dinner dance where the
Louisiana debutantes are
presented to whatever
component of Washington's
polite society that has dared
to show up.
Before and after the dinner,
Congressmen and others
host receptions in suites
throughout the hotel. On the
right is a photo from a suite
hosted by new Congressman
John Fleming from the
district that includes
Shreveport. As it happens,
Dr. Fleming is a graduate of
the University of Mississippi
School of Medicine. Sally
does fundraising work for
him, and she and I had a
chance to visit with them and
their son, J.C. at the Cotton
Bowl in Dallas earlier in
The main attraction. The traditional format of a Mardi
Gras ball is the presentation of a theme. The theme of
this ball was Sunshine on the Delta. I don't know why.
The king was an old friend, Roy O. Martin, Jr., of
Alexandria. When Sally and I worked in the Governor's
Office in the early 1980's, Roy was a student worker. He
has since taken his revenge for whatever mistreatment he
received by becoming incredibly courteous to others,
handsome and wealthy. I'm pretty sure that neither Sally
nor I had anything to do with it.
Roy is a member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, and
he is apparently in good standing, because the big
surprise of the night was that he paid for the LSU Golden
Band from Tigerland to travel to Washington by bus and
surprise the crowd. I was outside the room when they
made their entrance (see insert left), but we heard the
thunderous reception they received.
And while the king was away from the throne, they let
almost anybody (right) sit on it.
|WASHINGTON MARDI GRAS, 2009