Every year here in the greater New Orleans area we have more than 100 Mardi Gras monarchs. Although they have different personalities, all have one thing in common: They are all New Orleans Royalty. As we know well, no two monarchs are alike; that’s one of the many things that make New Orleans Carnival so entertaining. One year they may be sitting on a float, scepter in hand, adorned in jewels and toasting the public with champagne; the next year they’re in sneakers and a fleece sitting on an ice chest trying to catch a koozie to keep their Abita Amber cold. See, in our city it’s the people that make up our royalty.

This subject came to mind after I attended a ball out of state. This particular ball had a handful of European monarchs present. I mean the real deal, ones who actually rule over entire countries. The ball was huge, and from where I sat you could barely see Their Majesties at the banquet, but I knew there was no one at that table guzzling rum punch out of a horned goblet. The funniest part was when an announcer came on the loudspeaker welcoming us to the ball and stating that the banquet was beginning; then he said very loudly, “and please do not touch the monarchs.” I turned to my dad and we both started hysterically laughing. My dad put the Mardi Gras beads back in his pocket and said, “Doesn’t look like this bunch will be as receptive as our royalty back home.”

Here we are encouraged to interact with the royalty and they with us, and boy, do they ever! They throw us beads, cups, doubloons and even Hubig’s pies. Every year we see them on floats, on TV and at balls, all grinning hugely and having a blast. I heard one year that a king had to handcuff himself to the throne on his float to prevent himself from standing up and dancing. Not because he didn’t want to dance, but so he wouldn’t get fined for standing up on a moving float. Raise your glass in a toast to all of our Mardi Gras monarchs past and present: You have been a delight for us to watch, and thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for Carnival with us. Hail, Your Majesties!