JLNO Mardi Gras Ball
In 1935, the Junior League of New Orleans premiered its Mardi Gras ball. The masquerade ball was the very first of its kind in New Orleans. On February 28, 1935, The Times-Picayune read, “The glamorous pageantry… of Carnival time will be open this year to visitors for the first time through the Mardi Gras masquerade ball to be sponsored… by the Junior League of New Orleans.”
Many newspapers in the area highlighted and applauded JLNO’s efforts to open Carnival to the public, allowing a glimpse of what was behind the closed curtained celebration of mystical krewes. In addition to the ball’s inclusivity, publications also lauded the League on its patronage. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited JLNO’s Nutrition Center, which opened its doors in the 1920s. The center educated children and families on proper diet and health topics. It also expanded into other educational opportunities and activities for children, including the Nursery School, in 1931, which “provided mother’s groups, craft classes, art lessons and child care.”
Visitors from all over Louisiana and other areas of the United States attended the masque-ball-benefit, supporting the League’s efforts to give a piece of Carnival to the masses and also grow its philanthropy. Even stars turned out at the event. “Crooner [Bing] Crosby will be in town with the theatre men, and has made a reservation,” reported Sue Bryan on February 24, 1935, in The Sunday Item-Tribune, “And that, ladies and gentlemen, ought to be an inducement.”
The evening was a great success according to The Morning Tribune on March 2, 1935, in an article recapping the event. “The brochure of the ball said that the Junior League would attempt with this ball to bring to New Orleans visitors a touch of ‘the spirit of Carnival and some of its highlights.’ The League did.”
Queen of the Junior League Ball, Miss Elizabeth Eustis, was presented alongside her king at the masquerade ball. Photo provided by: Louisiana State Museum Historical Center. Gift of the Junior League of New Orleans. The Junior League of New Orleans Collection, record group SB3, 2014.011.01 – 2014.016.039.