January 6th is King’s Day, and for Louisiana it is also the start of Mardi Gras. Upholding that tradition is the Krewe of Eros.

Since 1936, around this time of year, this New Orleans Krewe has crowned a king. The only pauses have been during the years of World War II, the year post-Hurricane Katrina and last year due to the global pandemic. So, this year the Krewe of Eros, an organization my family has been part of for almost 30 years, is thrilled to continue their time-honored tradition.

The Krewe’s King is crowned annually in the Rex room at Antoine’s Restaurant, during a dinner attended only by the Krewe’s captain and his officers. And the identity of the King of Eros is kept a secret, never to be announced publicly, as he wears a disguise for the Krewe’s ball.

Ironically, the king’s dinner this year happened to fall on the actual date of King’s day. Unlike my husband, who is a lieutenant in the Krewe and president of the organization, I was not privileged to attend. I was, however, invited to the Queen’s party, held this past weekend at the home of Kim and Brian Bent, owner of Bent’s RV, with a location now in Albany. And I am allowed to tell you the identity of this year’s Queen.

Reigning as the 2022 Queen of Eros is Her Majesty Miss Megan Elizabeth Morici. At a party held in her honor, Miss Megan Morici was crowned with the same crown worn by her mother Maureen Makofsky Morici, who was Queen in 1990, and also worn by her sister, Miss Abigail Kaitlyn Morici, who was Queen in 2019.

For this special occasion, Miss Megan wore a dress made and worn to a previous Eros ball by her grandmother, Mrs. Dione Makofsky, who served as court seamstress to the Krewe for over 20 years.

Now that’s what I call Mardi Gras tradition!

Along with crowning the queen, this party also announced this year’s royal court, each member receiving an official hand-painted proclamation. Serving as maids this year are: Miss Madeleine Cecelia Keller, Miss Kennedi Elizabeth Melancon, Miss Catherine Marie Zimmermann, Miss Lauren Elizabeth Culbertson, Miss Ella Grace Frischhertz and Miss Isabella Claire Dupré.

Serving as this year’s junior maids are: Miss Lily Denise Centola, Miss Lucy Villere Centola, Miss Mia Marcelle Frischhertz, Miss Elise Manon Scafidel and Miss Elodie Catherine Scafidel.

Serving as princesses this year are: Miss Violet Suzanne Centola, Miss Valentina Lucille Day, Miss Lena Barrios Frischhertz and Miss Suzanne Louise Halstead.

And serving as page to His Majesty King Eros 2022 is Master Brannan Keith Webb, III.

Immediately following the official announcement of the court, a round of toasts began. Leading the way was the Queen’s father Dr. Mark Morici, who bid well wishes to his daughter and her royal subjects for a successful ball, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans Jan. 15.

Then the court and guests dined on an array of traditional Louisiana dishes, such as shrimp and grits, lump crabmeat appetizers and crawfish pies. Dessert offerings were an assortment of purple, green and gold decorated cookies made by Jeanea Charbonnet Bandi Creations, along with petit-fours and an ice cream-based coffee punch.

Of course, no Mardi Gras celebration is complete without a King Cake. And custom-made for this party by Hi-Do Bakery was a huge Bavarian cream King Cake molded into the shape of a crown.

Whether it’s at a traditional Mardi Gras event, parade, or in your own home, when a King Cake is served it’s always a celebration. And there is no need to travel to the city of New Orleans to find one.

Cindy Henderson, owner of Berry Town Produce in Hammond and Ponchatoula, said her stores are making a variety of fresh King Cakes daily. Cocoa Bean Bakery has started their King Cake baking season and encourages customers to call ahead to reserve one. And, again this year, Pho Grace Vietnamese Restaurant in Hammond will be selling the popular Dong Phuong King Cakes. Available in a variety of flavors, including cinnamon, cream cheese, pecan, almond, strawberry, and coconut, this specialty King Cake will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturdays starting at 10:15 a.m. until supplies run out.

As this Mardi Gras season unfolds, during yet another COVID outbreak, times continue to be uncertain. But one thing is for sure. When carnival time rolls around in Louisiana, our time-honored traditions find a way to continue. Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Pamela Cali Bankston, R.N., is the published author of the Frizzy Frieda Books, and an HRAC board member.

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