New Orleans style at Coplay Saengerbund
New Orleans and its famed Mardi Gras came to Coplay Saengerbund, 205 S. Fifth St., March 3 as revelers packed the ballroom for a festive time to enjoy the tradition that brings the Bayou, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter north.
The theme “Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler” (“Let the Good Times Roll”) was dominant. A 30-foot banner served as a backdrop for the band, along with a cafe resembling Brennan’s Restaurant in the French Quarter. Two huge 6-foot masks graced each side of the hall, and purple lights wrapped around garland surrounded the hall. A feathered mask with metallic fringes completed the centerpieces for each table. Dart boards were covered to take on the look of a New Orleans jazz club.
Kevin Fritz, Coplay Saengerbund president, welcomed the attendees, who received a feathered or sequined mask and strands of green and purple beads, which added to the New Orleans flavor.
Beginning with dinner, guests savored chicken paprikash with spaetzle and ham with all the trimmings. Zydeco was the music genre accompanying dinner.
Then, the party got rolling as Frank Luizer, chairman of Coplay Saengerbund’s heritage committee and master of ceremonies for the event, entered with a baton featuring a sequined ball and jewels. He led the Emil Schanta Band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The heritage committee sponsored the event.
Following was a green-lighted dragon; beneath the costume were Rick Hess, Rick Wargo and Rich Girard. The mini-parade traveled the dance floor to the music, leading people to leave their tables to join in.
Jim Kern was dressed as Miss Marty, an inflated pig. Many others sported similar costume attire.
A highlight of the event came when Luizer and his wife, Maryellen, were introduced as the Mardi Gras king and queen, crowned by their daughter Shelly Luizer. Frank and Maryellen Luizer had a pivotal role with the preparations for the dinner/dance.
In keeping with the New Orleans tradition, king cake, eaten usually Jan. 6 (Three Kings Day) and Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) was served. The king and queen cut the cake and shared it with the guests. In the royal cake, gold represents power, green is associated with faith, and purple illustrates justice. Usually a plastic baby is inside, a symbol of baby Jesus, which bestows good luck to the recipient.
There were also costume contests — the coolest, most outrageous and funniest. A Champagne toast was given to all the women as prettiest.