Traditions of both the Old South and Renaissance Europe are kept alive every year as formal balls held across Louisiana in the lead up to Mardi Gras.
For 70 years, the Opelousas Garden Club has held one such Mardi Gras ball they call Bal Masque, and they celebrated their “Platinum Jubilee of Royalty” on Saturday, Jan. 30. Here, local leaders vie to become King Orme the 70th. Meanwhile, debutantes, comprised of high school junior and senior girls who are “examples for their peers and local community,” hope to be chosen as Queen Camellia the 70th.
“We love it,” said Marguerite Fontenot, who organizes the Bal Masque for the Opelousas Garden Club and runs the Fontenot School of Dance in Opelousas. “It’s good for the girls. It’s good for the boys. You saw them waltz. How often do you see boys and girls waltz?”
At the ball, the girls and their escorts learn to waltz, walk and present themselves in traditional dress, and are “presented by their fathers to high society” like the debutantes of old.
Anthony Martin Cosgrove III was named King Orme the 70th and Princess Elizabeth Anne Mouret, a senior at Opelousas Catholic, was named his Queen Camellia. The pomp and pageantry in this land of make believe is all in good fun before the girls have to return to school and the Court must return to work on Monday.