Waveland Alderman Jeremy Burke reports on the upcoming Nereids Parade, the recent conference of the Mississippi Municipal League, and recent appointments made by Mayor Smith.
Please read the notice below regarding the Nereids parade.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
PUBLIC NOTICE FROM THE CITY OF WAVELAND
Board Members Go To Capitol
Waveland Mayor Mike Smith, Alderman Bobby Richardson, and I recently attended the Mississippi Municipal League’s 2019 Mid-Winter Legislative Conference in Jackson, Mississippi.
Along with approximately 500 municipal leaders from all over Mississippi, we participated in discussions of current legislative issues and their impact on local governments and attended sessions to listen to ideas to help move Waveland forward. We also networked with legislators and business leaders at the Gulf Coast Legislative Reception and at the capitol to provide them important feedback on issues that are critical to Waveland.
While in Jackson Mayor Smith, Alderman Richardson and I met with Mississippi Development Authority leadership to ask for additional funding for a community building at Martin Luther King Jr. Park on Herlihy Street. I’m pleased to report that Mayor Smith got word in mid-January from the Mississippi Development Authority that Waveland got the additional funding required to fund the building at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Attending the MML's Mid-Winter Conference and visiting the capitol during the legislative session are valuable components of Waveland’s progress forward.
In accordance with Waveland’s charter, Mayor Mike Smith was required to make his appointments to several positions at the first meeting of the new administration. The list of the mayor’s appointments are as follows:
The two changes that Mayor Mike Smith made was appointing former Assistant Chief Michael Prendergast as the Waveland Police Chief. Chief Prendergast replaces Dave Allen.
Chief Allen has served as Waveland Police Chief since 2013 and served Waveland well. He led a department that was facing a number of lawsuits to one of the most respected police departments in South Mississippi. I’m happy to report that Dave Allen has agreed to stay with the Waveland Police Department to serve as Head of Investigations and a full-time Cyber Crimes Investigator for the city of Waveland.
I’m positive Chief Prendergast will do a stellar job. His 30-plus years of experience in law enforcement and fresh perspective will be invaluable for the Waveland Police Department. I am confident that under Chief Prendergast’s dedicated leadership, the Police Department will continue to work diligently in protecting our community against crime, while implementing best practices, new technologies and initiatives to ensure the department is able to meet the growing needs of our city.
The other change that was made was the appointment of Ron Duckworth as city clerk. The appointment of Ron is only a temporary appointment. Ron will still hold his position as comptroller, but Mayor Smith informed the Board of Aldermen that his desired choice of city clerk wouldn’t be ready to begin work as city clerk until February, so Ron was temporarily appointed to fill the position.
Marching to a Different Drummer
Carnival and Creativity go hand-in-hand - especially in these five very different sorts of Mardi Gras parades. They're all within easy driving distance from the Mississippi coast and make for a fun-filled day trip!
- story by Karen Fineran
The Spectacular Mardi Gras Mind of Carter Church
A small Mardi Gras museum in the historic Bay St. Louis depot features samplings of the extraordinary costumes designed by the iconic Carter Church. Celebrate Nereids 50th anniversary by visiting!
- by Rebecca Orfila, photos by Ellis Anderson
Ornate satin gowns, capes and breeches, headdresses, and beads are de rigueur at balls and on floats. During our recent visit to the Mardi Gras Museum, Susan Duffy, the Depot’s concierge, explained that a queen’s costume can take as many as 400 hours to create. Each crystal jewel is individually pasted onto the gowns and other pieces of the royal ensemble.
The dresses are special creations, fitted to each individual participant. Both royals wear high collars - iced with sparkling silver decorations, crystals jewels, and flowing with white or dyed ostrich feathers. The high collars are a modern design, typical for contemporary queens and kings.
The Nereids Kings’ and attending dukes’ costumes are equally elaborate and consist of tunics, short capes, and knee-length breeches. The King’s crown is smaller than the Queen’s and is decorated with the special motif of the year - and white ostrich feathers.
The other costumes in the collection were also created by Carter Church. After a brief period of rest following Mardi Gras, Church begins to design ceremonial regalia for the next Carnival season. Krewes in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama reach out to him for their costuming needs.
In most cases, the theme for the next year is determined by a krewe; then, it becomes Church’s duty to create sparkling ceremonial clothing to illustrate the chosen motif. Fanciful designs, such as an alligator and swamp scene on a queen’s gown or Aztec-themed costumes intertwined with satin snakes are typical of Church’s detailed designs.
Church’s original design drawings are situated in front of each display at the Mardi Gras Museum. His drawings are beautiful in their own right. His many years of experience have gained him noteworthy acclaim in the fashion industry.
In a small exhibit slightly off the main hall of the museum is the costume Carter Church wore as King of Nereids in 2013. Church said that serving as King of a the famous all-women krewe was the highlight of his life.
Also included in the display is a Queen’s collar in the Medici style. The late 16th Century fashion consists of a rigid fan worn upright behind the head of a female wearer, not the large, towering form seen in modern queens’ regalia. The Medici style collar is decorated with crystals and silver decorations.
Costs for such finery can vary from nominal amounts to thousands of dollars. In the case of Kings and Queens of some krewes, the costumes will be worn the following year during the presentation ceremonies at the balls when the previous year’s royalty is presented to the new King and Queen.
One of the museums’ volunteers is Martha Franks, who has a special connection to it. Mrs. Franks is Carter Church’s sister. When the number of visitors rises during the busy seasons at the museum, or the staff is otherwise occupied, Mrs. Franks gracefully steps in and guides the guests through the display. According to Duffy, she is well versed on the royal wear and the creation of each special costume.
The museum’s collection of elaborate costumes dotted with crystals and feathers give out-of-town visitors an up-close view of the Mardi Gras celebration. According to Duffy, approximately 800 to 1,000 people stop by the Depot each month. Each visitor is welcomed with his or her own set of Mardi Gras beads.
The Mission-style train depot is also home to the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau, headed by Myrna Green. The historic building was restored after Hurricane Katrina. The depot and the grounds surrounding it are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it is a Mississippi Landmark Property.
The museum is located at 1928 Depot Way in Bay St. Louis and is open every day of the year except Sundays, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The second floor of the Depot is home to the nationally acclaimed folk artist Alice Moseley's museum.
"Mardi Blah" turns "Mardi Rah!" for two transplants who discover the joys of carnival season on the coast.
- story by Ana Balka
“Omaha versus North Dakota,” my husband said. “So we’ll move this weekend, and be out of here before everything goes crazy.”
“Ah huh,” said the man. His flummoxed expression remained as he shook the ice in his glass, took a sip and turned his attention back to the game.
“It’s a shame you’ll miss Mardi Gras,” the woman said. “Won’t it be awfully cold there?” Her bewilderment followed us as we waved and went into our gate a couple of doors down.
It was January of 2013, and after an overseas move, my husband and I had been staying temporarily in the French Quarter while we looked for something more permanent in the area. And we’d found it on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
So we were moving out of the condo that weekend. The following week, on the Friday preceding Mardi Gras, we had tickets for the aforementioned hockey game in my home state of Nebraska. Our neighbors must have been visualizing the meme that shows a woman flashing her chest to a herd of cows over the caption “Mardi Gras in Nebraska.”
We knew what a cool opportunity it was to live in the French Quarter even for a short time. That said, we weren’t always in tune with the way things are done around here. Not that I’m a stranger to parties or parades, but as far as making a big deal of things, the closest we had to Mardi Gras where I grew up (besides, duh, Cornhusker games) was the world-famous Czech festival in Wilber, which (as I am certain you know) is the Czech Capital of the USA. King cake? No, man. Kolaches. Delicious, delicious kolaches.
Steven is from the Netherlands, and he has home movies of his mother and sisters whooping it up in bizarre (and kind of scary) masks for vastenavond — Carnival — sometime in the mid-’70s. Neither Steven nor his dad appears in these videos. They were likely at home doing something reasonable, like reading.
So in January 2013, while all of our friends were sketching, stitching, bedazzling, be-feathering, and fur-lining ingenious outfits for not just Mardi Gras but also Lundi Gras and the Saturday before and the eve prior to that, we may have mumbled a “bah humbug” or two at the idea of the noise, the crowds, the costumes, the marching bands and — don’t hate — the parades. We had Mardi Blah.
Still, the spirit of the season caught me during the run-up. There was the ethereal procession of knights and angels in the dim light of the Jeanne d’Arc parade. Our friends in the microkrewe ‘tit Rəx made detailed and hilarious Barbie-doll-sized social statements for their 28-shoebox-float parade. Our condo was on the parade route for the Mystic Krewe of Barkus. Who can remain a wet blanket when hundreds of dogs in sunglasses and tutus are grinning and wagging past your house? If you’re raising your hand, perhaps we need to station you on the route for Krewe du Vieux and see if what rolls past makes you swell with a bit more enthusiasm.
Our Mardi Gras celebrations since we moved to the Bay have been appealingly up-close and personal. We braved the 2014 cold snap for the Mystic Krewe of Seahorse’s parade, where we cheered Keith and Susan of the Ugly Pirate as they sailed by in their pirate-mobile, waved and yelled as friends passed in bead-festooned golf carts, and marveled at the cold-weather commitment that the ladies of the Raw Oyster Marching Club displayed in their frilly pirate damsel outfits.
Last year I inched closer to the spirit of things. It wasn’t exactly a costume, but at least I took the time to put on a furry green coat, and I dressed the Mardi dog in a nice sweater before joining the pack of revelers who were whooping it up on the front lawn of the French Potager with owner Martha Whitney Butler.
“The first year I went to Mardi Gras,” says Butler, who grew up in a non-coastal Alabama town with no Mardi Gras tradition, “I felt like I was one of the only people who wasn’t in costume. After, I was like, [forget] this, because the only people not in costume were tourists. Every year, I would add a little more ‘umph’ to my costume.”
It’s quite possible that I’ll do the same and find myself adding a bit more umph to my Mardi Gras outlook each year. Don’t get me wrong; I’m quite fine with maintaining a less-than-rabid level of holiday spirit. But the idea of a collective letting-down of the hair before a period of spiritual self-discipline has merit regardless of one’s beliefs, and as I’ve said in this column before, the Gulf Coast has a way of drawing you in, sometimes despite yourself.
2/6 - Friday
2/8 - Sunday
2/10 - Tuesday
2/14 - Saturday
2/14 - Saturday
2/16 - Monday, Lundi Gras
2/17 - Tuesday, Mardi Gras
2/21 - Saturday
Brainstorming around a drugstore table 48 years ago, seven Waveland women changed local history.
- story by Ellis Anderson
It all began with a casual comment.
“Claire, Elaine, Louise and I were standing outside the Waveland Drugstore in 1966 watching the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” recalls Nancy Gex. “Elaine said ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have something bigger than this, something for the ladies…’ She’d evidently been thinking about this for a long time."
The mission would be to create a fun family event while stimulating local business. The women began meeting around a table in the drugstore at night, after it closed (owned by the Lynchs). Later a plaque was installed on the table, “Nereids was born here.”
Gex’s assignment was to find a name for the organization. After a lot of research, she came up with Nereids. In Greek mythology, they were the 50 sea nymph daughters of Nereus and Doris. The Nereids were believed to help sailors during storms at sea.
Since the women decided that the organization would be based on the classical Mardi Gras groups across the coast, membership would be secret and all participants masked. Since there were 50 original Nereids, the women decided to shoot for fifty charter members. Just to make sure they had enough members, they sent out a hundred invitations, expecting that about half would decline.
“We got 96 responses out of a hundred,” says Gex. “We knew then it was really going to be something.”
The first ball and parade were held in 1967. With less than a year of preparation time, the women marshaled forces. Garages and warehouses all over town became workshops to build floats. Many people made their own costumes as well. Nereids fever took over the town.
The first ball and supper dances were held in the St. Joseph’s gym and invitations became worth their weight in gold as people vied to get one. The identities of the king and queen were closely held secrets, with all sorts of shenanigans occurring to ferret out the names.
Nancy remembered one particular incident where King Hack Doyle was entering the gym for a rehearsal. He spotted several women hiding in the bushes and asked what they were up to. They confessed they had heard that the king would be coming for rehearsal that evening and they hoped to find out who he was. Doyle said he’d been curious too and asked if he could hide and wait with them. Of course, the king never showed and Doyle sadly explained he couldn’t wait any longer, they expected him inside to help out.
The secrecy even extended to the founders. Nancy’s husband Lucien was chosen as the 10th anniversary king and she was kept in the dark. Nereid’s captain Elaine Coleson arranged to leave information for Lucien in “a drop” - the trash can at the post office. She’d leave information for Lucien in the can and he’d go by and discretely fish the envelope out. Nancy was mystified when someone reported that her husband was frequently seen digging through the trash at the post office.
“It was all a lot of fun,” says Nancy.
Eventually they raised money for a den to build and store the floats, In fact, Nancy and Dot signed a loan with the bank to buy the property - without telling their husbands. The two women borrowed $10,000 (“That was a lot of money in those days!”) and the bankers never revealed the information. Fortunately the note was paid off and floats began to be built in the den instead of any spare space the members could find.
There have other been major changes through the years. Elaine and Claire were co-captains the first two years (Elaine organized the ball and Claire the parade). When they consolidated the captain’s position, Elaine was elected and she held the position until she passed in 2004. The group outgrew the gym eventually and began holding their ball at the Coast Coliseum. The anonymity part has relaxed through the years too (something Nancy admits she misses). However, the identity of “Queen Doris” is always a secret and the current captain asked that her name not be revealed.
“I don’t participate any more, but I’m a member,” says Nancy. “It’s been great to see it grow. Never did we dream that it would be like it is.”