Mardi Gras is a year-round affair for krewes
Splashes of purple, gold and green festoon the upper Texas coast in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, and some swatches of fabric hang around all year.
From the glittery masks sold year-round at Star Drug Store in Galveston’s downtown, to the aromas of Maceo Spice & Import Co., to never-ending
parties dotting the shoreline of Clear Lake, Mardi Gras is a business.
The Krewe of the Knights of Momus, Galveston’s oldest krewe, makes plans all year long.
A large contingent of Houstonians who are members of Momus descend on Galveston not just for Mardi Gras, but for other events and meetings. They all need a place to eat and sleep every time, no matter the season.
“We try to direct them to Galveston hotels and hairdressers,” Momus member Joan McLeod said. “It’s really been a money producer for the hotels.”
And all the parties require outfits from glitzy cocktail dresses to the $2,500 gowns that Momus duchesses wear on the parade float and at the San Luis Salute. Participants also have to have accessories, jewelry and masks, McLeod said.
Many other Galveston’s krewes have members who don’t live on the island but who travel to the island for krewe events and meetings in the spring, summer and fall.
Tutu Live Krewe is one of the newer krewes. Its 32 members come from all over the state, vice president Josie Molina said. And they stay busy all year long.
“We start almost two weeks after Mardi Gras ends,” Molina said.
Tutu Live Krewe members set up a dance practice schedule, plan choreography and prance in community parades from St. Patrick’s Day to Fourth of July to Thanksgiving and Christmas. The parades have turned out to be a good recruiting tool.
“Members have found us going to parades,” Molina said. “We have 12 new ones this year.”
Tutu Live Krewe also held a huge costume ball at Halloween to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief, she said. It was the first ball, and the krewe plans for it to become an annual event, Molina said.
The parties never stop. The krewes are social clubs, after all, and socializing happens before Epiphany and after Ash Wednesday, the bookends to the traditional Mardi Gras season.
Months after official Mardi Gras parades and balls have ended, Momus members have a cocktail party to welcome the organization’s new president and to learn the theme for the next Mardi Gras season, former duchess Magen Ortiz said.
That special event usually happens in July.
“We all tend to look forward to that,” Ortiz said. “Beyond the friendships, there are the multiple events.”