Continuing its tradition of Mardi Gras court presentations, the Knights of Momus, Galveston’s oldest krewe, officially kicked off the first weekend of Mardi Gras with the president’s welcome reception and cocktail party at The Tremont House in the Davidson Ballroom on Feb. 2 and the glamorous Coronation Ball on Feb. 3. Highlighting the weekend was the presentation of 24 duchesses from Houston, Bellaire, Katy, Galveston, Tiki Island and Fort Worth at The Grand 1894 Opera House as Momus saluted “Galveston Island: Queen City of the Gulf.” The Duchesses charmed the sold-out audience of 800 with their Texas bows and breathtaking gowns in a variety of vibrant colors and designs.
The crowning of King Frivolous CIII James Elliott McLean, owner of an accounting practice in Bellaire and Momus Queen Arielle Lisette Brown, a senior at Rice University, marked the special occasion. The members of the king’s retinue who contributed to the merriment on stage included William C. Ansell, Matthew Blumenstock, Frank Dominguez III, Lawrence Estes, Johnny Listowski, Dr. Josef McLean, James McLean, Jr. and Jefferey Sanders.
The master of ceremonies introduced the former Knights of Momus queens as they stood and waved to the crowd. After the queen rose from the orchestra pit shielded by a Balinese paper parasol, the king administered the queen’s oath to her.
Following the presentation, Michelle and Bryan Ritchey chaired a grand gala at The Galveston Island Convention Center at The San Luis Resort. Upon entering the festivities, partygoers were instantly submersed back to the glory days of the ‘40s and ‘50s as if walking into the original Balinese Room, Galveston’s elite dinner club. Bathing beauties from the Galveston Island Beach Revue greeted guests, while 5-person variety band “The El Orbits” set the tone for a lively evening to come.
After a brief cocktail reception, the famed Texas Rangers “raided” the room as the band played “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You,” just as it was played at the Balinese Room to signal the arrival of the Rangers. The guests then followed the duchesses’ lead into the ballroom to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” preceded by “Second Line,” the sequential song that signals celebration. Immediately following, the duchesses grabbed their fathers for the first dance of the night to a dance medley of songs ranging from the 1940s to current hits, kicking off the evening of merriment.
The green, gold and champagne décor, created by Nalini Kannan of Decor One, transformed the space into a modern-day Balinese Room adorned with breathtaking bamboo, greenery and fresh flower mixtures. As guests entered the ballroom, they were drawn to an eye-catching custom Balinese pagoda, reminiscent of the iconic pagoda from the original Balinese Room, and a four-sided bar shaded by a bamboo canopy that marked the center of the room.
Throughout the evening, showstopping entertainment featuring Chinatown Band and DJ Andres Santiago took to the stage, anchored by a shadow box on either side with costumed dancers from Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theater. Momus President Scott Livanec and his wife, Martha, were found on the dance floor illuminated by lights, lanterns and paper parasols floating from above. Guests danced the night away including ball chairmen Michelle and Bryan Ritchey, Carrie and Jonathan Zendeh Del, Weez and Mike Doherty, Joan and Doug McLeod, Tessie and Jim McLean, Mary and Gary Peters, Libbie and Bill Ansell, Jill and DJ Termini and Karen Flowers and Ted Shook.
After dessert, festively-clad guests were found mingling and socializing among the lounge area complete with a cigar rolling demonstration featuring custom-made Knights of Momus matchbooks to enjoy on the balcony. The pianist and guitarist with “The El Orbits” took to the grand piano as guests sang along to the lounge music. Those enjoying the scene were the master of ceremonies and KTRK news anchor Tom Koch and his wife, Brenda, Lisette and Tony Brown, Paige Fertitta, Robyn and Mike Newburn, Jessica and Hal Rochkind, Cara and John Koza, VJ Tramonte, Kim and Robert Kirschner, Dancie and Jim Ware, Jennifer and Frank Dominguez, Renee and Scott Rice, Margie and Scott Kusnerik, Craig Kovacevich, Janet and Mike Wegner, Nicole and Doug LeBouef, Kim and Steve Conner, Erin and Kevin Teichman, Stephanie and Brent Vasut and Mary Claire and Christopher Haver.