The Belles & Buoys Square Dance Club of Gulfport celebrated their XXXI Mardi Gras Festival with a Roman Holiday theme.
The ball was held February 6 and 7 at the Woolmarket Community Center with square and round dancers from Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi filling the hall.
The stage was decorated with a backdrop of Roman columns, water fountains, a pond and greenery. Tracy Williams, chairman of the art department at William Carey University, painted the scenery.
An arbor of white columns entwined with greenery was entrance for King Buoy XXXI and Queen Belle XXXI and their royal court.
Square and Round Dancing was called and cued by Lem Gravelle of Lafayette, La., and Huey Dufrene of Baton Rouge, La.
On Saturday, square and round dancing workshops were held in the morning. Presentation of the Royal Court was Saturday, February 7 at 7 p.m., followed by square and round dancing.
King Buoy XXXI was Robert Williams of Ocean Springs and Queen Belle was Barbara Hickman of Perkinston. Grand Duchess was Bea Stout and Grand Duke was Bert Burril, both of Gulfport.
King Buoy wore traditional black tuxedo with royal blue bowtie and cummerbund complete with yellow boutonniere. His crown was royal blue trimmed with silver sequins and he carried a rhinestone scepter. The King and Queen's trains were royal blue satin lined in silver, decorated with a three-tier water fountain on the back and trimmed with a wide band of silver sequins around the edge.
Their mantles were decorated in silver and royal blue outlined with silver sequins and backed with royal blue feathers.
Queen Belle wore a long gown of royal blue satin and the bodice was royal blue lace with tiny lace flowers decorated with silver and blue sequins. The bodice had a scalloped edge on the waistline, neckline and sleeves. She wore a necklace of rhinestones with matching earrings and silver shoes.
Lou Finkle, club president, presented the queen with a bouquet of yellow roses.
The royal court was made up of couples representing their club from all over the South. The Lords and Ladies were Doug Salley and Joey Benson from B Sharpe of Mobile and the Jubilee Squares from Fairhope, Ala.; Scott Sanders and Lori Carpenter from the Western Variety Squares of Gulfport; Royce Eaves and Thelma Harris from the Paddlewheelers of Vicksburg; Oscar Eckhoff and Joyce Watzke from the Magnolia Swingers of Mobile; Victor and Nikki Terranova from the Tammany Twirlers of Slidell; Joseph and Ellen Bigbie from Laurelaires of Laurel; John and Marie Gibson from the Newton Hayriders of Covington, Ga.; David and Sharron Jarrad from the MS Square Dance Callers; David and Dolly Kingsley from Piston 'N' Petticoats of Picayune; Robert and Winnie Mize from The Sunshine Squares of Clinton; Art and Vicki Hilts from Ocean Waves of Rockport, Texas; Jerry and Janice Stringer from Dixie Dancers of Summit; Joe and Ann Franklin from Singing River Swingers of Pascagoula; Richard and Frances Matthews from Louisiana Round Dance Teachers Association of Slidell; Ben and Mona Preston of Azalea Squares of Mobile; and Robert Mixon and Voetress Breazeale from Belles and Buoys in Gulfport.
Master of Ceremonies was Jim Owenby of Gulfport. He introduced reigning King Buoy XXX Chet yates and Queen Belle XXIV Venita Manning, who was standing in for Queen Belle XXX Carol Beinhauer, who was unable to attend due to an illness in the family.
The King and Queen recorded their names in the new Book of Royalty made by club member Karen Gordon. King Buoy XXXI and Queen Belle XXXI led the Royal court in the Royal Promenade and returned to their thrones for the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a prayer.
Lou Finke, Diane Thompson, Cathy Yates and Robert Manning led the Grand March followed by all the other dancers. At the conclusion of the march, the King declared "The the dance begin."
Past queens in attendance were Queen I Elouise Ward; Queen V Nell Knott; Queen XVIII Sharon Jarrard; Queen XXII Cathy Yates; Queen XXIII Bea Stout; Queen XXIV Venita Manning; Queen XXV Juanita Glazier; Queen XXVII Mary Taulbee; Queen XXVIII Voncile Ford and Queen XXVIX Jane Danielson.
Past kings in attendance were King V Charles Ludlow; King IX Gene Kerr; King XX David Jarrard; King XXII Bert Burril; King XXV Robert Manning; King XXVI John Ford; King XXVIII Harold Taulbee and King XXX Chet Yates.
Jim and Judy Owenbey served as Festival Chairmen, in charge of planning the festival and secretly selecting the King and Queen. Robert & Venita Manning served as co-chairmen.
Tom Baker and Nell Knott was in charge of making the set and table decorations. Nell also was in charge of coordinating the rehearsal for the court prior to the ball. She was the seamstress for the King and Queen's attire. Adela Saucier was in charge of the tea for the King and Queen.