Anyway.. on with the show.
We woke up on Sunday to a beautifully sunny but chilly Biloxi morning at my aunt's house (which is insanely beautiful, hopefully she lets me share some pictures of it sometime).
We needed to all be back at the hotel by 11:30 or something, so we proceeded to all get ready and pack up our designated outfit changes (purple shirts for Sunday!). We just knew we were going to some kind of "royal reception" and a "bead parade" afterward. These Gulf Coast Carnival people really need to consider renaming these events to do them justice, because we had NO IDEA what we were in for.
As it turns out, the Royal Reception is where the royal court is formally presented, walks down their own red carpet, and stands on stage for the longest receiving line I've ever seen (and hopefully ever see) in my life.
You can see that this massive ballroom is pretty much completely packed with very nicely dressed people crowding the rope line and waiting to snap pictures and cheer on their favorite Dukes and Maids. The spotlights and regal entry music really added to it. Once everyone had managed to precariously make it up the stairs to the stage, and the new queen had been toasted, the entire crowd started forming a line and to go up on stage and congratulate each of them. Thank goodness my aunt had warned us to jump in the line early, because I think the entire royal court was still shaking hands an hour and a half later.
We knew once the Royal Reception was petering out, we were supposed to go upstairs to my aunt's hotel room and change clothes before helping with this bead parade, but all of a sudden Jennifer was frantically waving at us from the stage and telling us to get out of there NOW.
Well thank goodness she got our attention, because if we would have waiting 10 more minutes I think we would have been trampled by the frenzied mass of 1000 people that suddenly transformed from genteel royalty supporters to bead hungry party animals.
As soon as we stepped out of my aunt's hotel room it was like BOOM! wall of people. The hotel floor that the royalty and their families were occupying had been a construction zone for the last 3 days to accommodate literally thousands of people walking up and down it, dancing, drinking, and generally having a really good time.
Now, when I say construction zone, I don't just mean they had removed the beds and added some chairs. Some rooms had light shows, some had stages with dancers performing, some had DJs, one had a gatsby-esque champagne tower, all of them were decorated with beads, sequins, chandeliers, and thematic decor.
Background: Each year, the association or Krewe picks a theme for that year's Mardi Gras. This year, the Gulf Coast Carnival Association's theme was Extra! Extra! and each pair of royalty represented a different headline-making event. One was Team USA winning the Miracle on Ice game, another was King Tut's tomb being discovered. Jennifer's was the sinking of the titanic (wah wah), but if anybody can make a tragic event look good it's her! ;)
I can't do justice to the chaos that ensued for the next few hours. The idea is that people parade around to each of the rooms and collect the custom beads that each member of the royalty has had made for them that year, but it was more like a mixture of black Friday at Target and Animal House. There was a jazz band walking up and down the hallway, the booze was flowing, and people were shoulder to shoulder the whole time. My aunt said she went through 1800 beads. Anyway, pure crazy.
This part of the day was so fun, but I also was on serious sensory overload at this point. My siblings and I opted to head back to my aunt's house to watch the Super Bowl - but guess what?! My parents and Avonna and Jennifer still had another party to go to!
The King's Dinner is held on Sunday night, and because it took place during the Superbowl, it was themed that way. But this is Mardi Gras, folks, so you don't just roll in a TV and put some wings on the table.
If you're going to have a Mardi Gras Superbowl Party, you better have balloon arches, astroturf table runners, TONS of food, 6 projectors, and a bunch of former players there signing footballs and custom placemats. Duh.
We all slept reeeeeallly well on Sunday night, because we knew the biggest party was still to come on Monday! Part 3 is coming your way tomorrow!