Cover Story: Mystick Krewe of Louisianians

Once a year, the spirit of Louisiana descends on the nation’s capital. Some 3,000 guests crowd the Washington Hilton as they have for more than 40 years, ready for a full-fledged Mardi Gras celebration. The event began even earlier, though, when in 1944 the first Mardi Gras ball was held in D.C. and featured Hale Boggs costumed as George Washington. In 1953, Walter Cronkite served as narrator and Vice President Richard Nixon presented the queen, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren crowned the queen the following year. Today, in addition to expats and dignitaries, the ball also welcomes queens from more than 25 Louisiana festivals to join in three days of festivities. “It’s a fun little demonstration to the rest of the nation about the resources of Louisiana and the economic opportunities here, as well as the cultural mores of our state,” says Ted Jones, who describes his position as the “senior of senior lieutenants” with the krewe. The 2017 ball, set for February 11, will feature a theme of “Louisiana: Love, Health and Happiness,” with Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas serving as king and his daughter Eastan Thomas as queen.