Courts & Krewes

In which we honor questions and answers

 What does old-line mean? 

We define “old-line krewes” to be those krewes that were incorporated before 1950 and that maintain the social traditions of the older krewes.

What’s the difference between being a Maid and being a Debutante?

Maids are selected to be part of the inner court of the King and Queen. You can be a Maid and not be a Debutante. A Debutante must be presented by their parents at a party in their honor. And they must be presented at one of the following: Bachelors’ Club, The Debutante Club, Le Debut des Jeunes Filles de la Nouvelle Orléans, Mid-Winter Cotillion, The Original Illinois Club, The Pickwick Club and Young Men Illinois Club.

What’s the difference between Maids, Princesses and other titles?

Age; younger girls serve as Princesses and Ladies-In-Waiting, while ladies who are of age to be Queen but were not selected as Queen may be asked to serve as the Maids of the Court. Other titles, such as Scepter Bearers, are specific to particular krewes.

How are royalty selected? 

Royalty are generally chosen by a committee of the krewe, which includes its officers. One exception is Comus, where the God/King is chosen solely by the Captain. There are some embellishments: Twelfth Night Revelers’ Queen is “officially” chosen at random on the night of the ball, when the Maids pull beans from a cake; the lady who finds the gold bean is then crowned Queen. (Whether or not the intended Queen or her family had prior knowledge in order to make needed preparations is lost in Carnival secrecy.) 

Why is documenting these courts important?

To help show the prominence through the years of New Orleans family names, many with historic roots in the region. Recording this tradition is honoring a piece of New Orleans history.

Why does the Carnival court tradition continue to thrive locally?

Because it’s so much a part of New Orleans culture, especially with family ties. Many within the old-line Carnival royalty hold titles once held by grand relatives. Others are starting a new lineage of their own. 

How long has this book been published?

Originally published as a special section of St. Charles Avenue magazine, this is the eighth annual Courts of Carnival, of which the current publication is the second free-standing edition.

Why aren’t all the Kings named?

Historically most of the Kings’ identities were always kept private, though some krewes, such as Rex and Zulu, openly identify their Kings as a civic honor. 

How heavy are the Queens’ outfits?

Often the decorated collars weigh between four and seven pounds alone, with the heavily decorated dresses adding another eight to 10 pounds. In addition, the mantles – intricately decorated velvet capes the Kings and Queens wear that are specific to each krewe – have been known to weigh almost 60 pounds.

Does royalty pass down in family lines (If someone’s mom was a Queen, will she be, too?)?

Not necessarily, though krewe members whose families have been royalty are often highly involved in the krewe’s operations, which does raise the chances that another family member will be crowned. The decision of who gets to be what is also influenced by the number or pedigree of girls who are of age (generally juniors in college, around 19 years old) in a particular year.

What is common throughout all pictured balls?

Royalty always wears crowns and mantles (capes) and hold some sort of scepter (though Comus carries a cup and Nereus holds a trident).

Why are some of the men masked?

In society balls it’s traditional for male members to be masked, quite often a continuation from having ridden in a parade. Rex’s event technically isn’t a Ball but a Reception; for that the members wear white tie and tails, though the King and his Lieutenants are costumed.