Americans aren’t supposed to like royalty.
We fought and won an epic political and military struggle against the British crown so we wouldn’t have kings or queens and so our leaders would be elected in a democratic system that’s the envy of the world.
We bow to no one — except during Mardi Gras, when we pay respects to queens, kings and duchesses and dance at royal balls.
We booted out British rule, but we kept the good parts — the glittery gowns and the shiny headgear. We’re not heathens, after all. We can have our king cake and eat it, too.
The Mardi Gras krewes, with their royal courts, pageantry and parades, help keep a tradition going — a tradition that’s good for young participants who learn civic duty and pride and for the city, which enjoys the parties and the profits as thousands of visitors come to help celebrate. It’s an important part of Galveston’s economy. Plus, it’s all in good fun.
I come from a long line of anti-royalists, but I’m not immune to the Mardi Gras glitter and pageantry. After 20 years, I’m still learning a lot about Mardi Gras — and Galveston — but my early suspicions about what I thought were secret, exclusive societies were misguided.
As you’ll read in this issue, kings, queens and duchesses in various courts are chosen for their contributions, or their families’ contributions, to vital Mardi Gras organizations. The courts and coronations aren’t without intrigue, but they’re surprisingly friendly and democratic, minus the guillotines.
In this issue, you’ll read about former Mardi Gras queens, a king and some duchesses and a whole lot of other people who contribute to the pre-Lenten festivities, including sailors who create the largest Mardi Gras boat parade in America — Yachty Gras.
And for every duchess and every ball, there are hundreds of people catching beads and making merry.
We wish you a happy Mardi Gras!