Lake Gaston celebrates Mardi Gras

Representing Krewe Timbuctu at the Lake Gaston Mardi Gras celebration on Saturday are, from left to right: Robin and Rebecca Vaughn, John and Susan Dement and Tim and Donna Keener.

This past Saturday, at around 11 a.m. six decorated boats along with some 40 people meet at Charles Ledbetter’s dock, and began making their way to The Pointe restaurant and meeting up with three decorated golf carts full of revelers from the Eaton Crossing neighborhood to kick off the fifth annual Lake Gaston Mardi Gras celebration.

This year’s Mardi Gras King is David Hemingway and this year’s queen is Susan Adler.

Hemingway was the first of the Lake Gaston Mardi Gras king to wear a special crown this year that came straight from New Orleans. Former king Monty Irving, part of the Krewe Six Pound, and a New Orleans native, brought the gold and red velvet headpiece back from a Christmas visit just for last weekend's gathering. It will be passed on to future Mardi Gras kings.

"It's an honor to be named king," Hemingway said.

Adler wrote this year’s proclamation that not only greeted all the participants, Krewe Pine Bluff, Krewe Six Pound, Krewe Timbuktu, Krewe North Shore and Krewe Eaton’s Crossing, but also  inviting all the “Kings loyal subjects” to join the celebration of the Great Festival of Mardi-Gras. The proclamation went on to command, all who gather to make merriment and music and “Laissez le bon temps rouler”

The Mardi Gras king is chosen by all the former kings, so Hemingway was picked to be king last year, and he has already chosen next year’s king who will be Tim Keener and the Queen for next year will be Donna Keener.

Following the festivities at the Pointe, the group gathered at the home of Irving for a Cajun feast featuring gumbo, dirty rice and all the fixin's.

Mardi Gras has a long and interesting history, the origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From here, the traditional revelry of "Boeuf Gras," or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies.

On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans, and named it "Pointe du Mardi Gras" when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday. Bienville also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America's very first Mardi Gras.

In 1704, Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile), similar to those that form our current Mardi Gras krewes. It lasted until 1709. In 1710, the "Boeuf Gras Society" was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The procession was held with a huge bull's head pushed along on wheels by 16 men. Later, they would parade with an actual bull, draped in white and signaling the coming Lenten meat fast. This occurred on Fat Tuesday.