Southwest Louisiana’s Royal Gala
Lake Charles’ Mardi Gras Costume Pageant
Mardi Gras King in Full Regalia During the Royal Gala in Lake Charles, LA
From Brazil to Venice and everywhere in between, few things symbolize Carnival and Mardi Gras as much as the large brightly colored costumes of the parading krewes, and secret societies.
From elaborate headpieces, to flowing gowns, crowns, and scepters it is a point of pride for Mardi Gas krewes to outfit their royal courts in the best and brightest royal regalia, adhering to a new theme each year. And nobody takes Mardi Gras costumes more seriously than the residents of Lake Charles, in southwestern Louisiana.
If Mardi Gras in Lake Charles is known for any one thing, it is costumes. In particular, Mari Gras in Southwest Louisiana is known for its more than 50 Mardi Gras krewes/parading organizations and their royal court regalia.
Each year, the Mardi Gras krewes of Lake Charles put on a colossal costume pageant that is open to the public, providing many with their only opportunity to see these grand creations. Typically, the royal regalia (costumes) are only worn at private ( krewe and guest only) balls and functions. The Royal Gala is not so much a competition as it is a chance for everyone to show off the year’s designs and handiwork.
Inside the Royal Gala in Lake Charles, Louisiana
As the lights fade and the opening speeches come to a close, there is a palpable sense of anticipation. Then, as the spotlight illuminates the walkway and the master of ceremonies announces the first krewe, the crowd erupts in a chorus of cheers and applause as the first colossal costumes of beads and feathers enter the auditorium.
Each krewe may display just a few costumes (king and queen), or perhaps a dozen or more towering beaded headdresses perched atop their king, queen, dukes, duchess, and other members of the krewe’s royal court.
The costumes may be 12 to 15 feet tall and weigh a hundred pounds or more. Yet these creations are the pride and joy of Lake Charles, and krewe members compete for the honor of wearing them as the proud representatives of their organization.
Krewe members work year round (sometimes beginning to design and build the next year’s costumes the day after the previous year’s Fat Tuesday celebration).
The Royal Gala is a full evening of entertainment, as literally hundreds of ornate Mardi Gras costumes are paraded before a packed auditorium of celebrants eeager to embrace the Mardi Gras spirit.
Held each year on Lundi Gras night (the night just before Fat Tuesday) the high energy, revelry and mayhem of the Royal Gala are a great way to warm up and get in the spirit of Mardi Gras before the next day's main event.
Up Close and Personal at the Lake Charles Mardi Gras Museum
While the Royal Gala is an ideal introduction to the costumes, headpieces, and Royal accoutrements of the Mardi Gras krewes, spectators at the event can only get so close to the finery. But, just a few miles away at the Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu, anyone with a few dollars to spare can see hundreds of costumes, from years gone by, and learn a great deal about the design process in the bargain. The museum also holds exhibits of rare Mardi Gras memorabilia, and two of the regular museum guides are former Mardi Gras king and queen. Their good-natured insight into the whole Mardi Gras process is simply captivating.
To view a gallery of photos from Lake Charles, Louisian's Mardi Gras Royal Gala Click Here.
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