Laissez les bon temps rouler

  • Friday, February 21, 2014

Tag and Doc Horan, late parents of Katie Maleckar, at 1952 Mardi Gras Ball in Georgetown.

That’s right! Let the good times roll! Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is right around the corner. Always observed on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, we’ll be celebrating this year on Tuesday, March 4.

Fat Tuesday is the last day to live it up before the Lenten season begins. What are you giving up for Lent? Alcohol, ice cream, cigarettes, Facebook? No matter what you choose, after Fat Tuesday stay away from your chosen vice until the Lenten season ends on April 19, the day before Easter Sunday.

Georgetown began celebrating Mardi Gras in a big way back in 1950. The Catholic Women’s Club held a masked Coronation Ball at the old National Guard Armory on Church Street. The proceeds supported St. Mary’s Parochial School.

In the years to follow, the Mardi Gras Ball became Georgetown’s most popular social event. Decorations and costumes were lavish. Costumes were ordered from the same costumers who outfitted the Mardi Gras participants in New Orleans. The average attendance for the Ball was around 700.

The entire county got in on the action. There was a limited voting period prior to the Ball and residents cast ballots for a King and Queen and members of the Royal Court. Official voting stations were set up throughout the county.

In addition, the Georgetown Times printed the official ballot so that people could drop off or mail in their ballots. In 1962, 25,057 ballots were cast.

In addition to the King, Queen, and Royal Court decided on by ballot, other appointed positions included Court Crier, Heralds, Page Boys, Flower Girls, and Trainbearers. These positions were much coveted.

The Orchestra Committee of the Catholic Women’s Club hired well-known orchestras and singers of national fame, including Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey in 1953. Can you imagine 700 people on the dance floor?

I’m listing the Kings and Queens elected from 1950 until 1962, the last year I was able to find information about Mardi Gras on the Georgetown County Digital Library website.

Maham Pyatt and Miss Margaret Ellington (1950), Dr. Phillip Assey and Miss Christine Thomas (1951), Sheriff Garris Cribb and Miss Harriet Plowden (1952), Lewis F. Freeman and Miss Bailey Carter (1953), Adam Rosyskie and Miss Betty Jo Kelly (1954), Raymond M. Andrews and Miss Jeanette Dunn (1955), Mars J. Pearson and Miss Libby Norris (1956), Nimmer Joseph and Butler Freeman (1957), I.E. Isaac and Miss Jody Mayer (1958), J. Frank Mixson and Miss Dorothy Jayroe (1959), Edward K. Tupacz and Miss Annie Louise Cooper (1960), Greg Duffy and Mrs. Marilyn Tompkins Barnhill (1961), E.R. Bouchard and Miss Mariam Hierholzer (1962) – congratulations to all.

Last year, in 2013, the S.C. Maritime Museum revived Mardi Gras in Georgetown by having two parades and a Mardi Gras party on Fat Tuesday. This year they are joining forces with the Cultural Council of Georgetown County and the Georgetown Business Association for Mardi Gras 2014.

The “strut” down Front Street begins at 6:15 p.m. at the Town Clock, continues to King Street and back again to the Maritime Museum for the 7 p.m. Mardi Gras Ball.

Everyone is invited to join in the “strut” on Front St. (participation is free). Admission to the Ball is $20 unless you join a Krewe of 10 or more people. Krewes pay only $15 to attend the Ball.

Some Krewes in New Orleans go back to the 1850s. Anyone may form a Krewe. I formed the Krazy Krewe, only to find out that there is a “Krewe des Lunatiques” in Louisiana, formed in 1988. Well, we’re aptly named. We’re a group of fools, crazies, lunatics and ordinary people who are proud to “strut our stuff” on Fat Tuesday.

Come join us and bring the whole family. Tickets are being sold at the Maritime Museum, Bienvenue Home, the Cultural Council Office, the Chamber of Commerce, and at Clock Tower Books. For more information, give me a call.

To the GCDL . . . thanks for the memories.

Debby Summey may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or djsummey@gmail.com.

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