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February 8, 2012

Mardi Gras: A Hot Date

Norman M. Covert

“It cannot be,” a learned student of pagan and religious rites said with fervor. “Mardi Gras cannot be celebrated after Fat Tuesday and ‘Trash’ Wednesday!”


“Au contraire,” came former King Proteus’ editorial response.


”Mardi Gras is a celebratory season,” he explained. “The ladies of Steiner House have declared the 51st Annual Mardi Gras ‘Bourbon Street Blast’ will convene Saturday night Feb. 25, 2012, at the Holiday Inn,” – at the Francis Scott Key Mall.


Technically the date follows the Ash Wednesday anointing of the religious season of Lent. However, one doesn’t quibble over such details. Consider the Frederick Women’s Civic Club, Inc., has a high purpose. It honors young ladies who have been nominated for presentation because of their volunteer contributions in the community. Each will be arrayed in white gowns and accoutrements befitting their princess status and escorted to center stage.


The club grants temporary “Constitutional Monarchy” status to the 2012 Kings of Mardi Gras, who were unveiled January 6th, traditional Christian Epiphany/Twelfth Night and end of the 12 Days of Christmas. Their rule ends about the time the young ladies appear and the royal court begins the first dance.


The 2012 Kings include Roger Hood Geisbert III, King Rex; Richard Feser, King Proteus; and Brad Ireland, King Comus. Like the princesses, each of the Kings has an extensive record of service to the Frederick community. They will be honored individually at the traditional Kings Dinner and presented as the Royal Court in the grand opening promenade.


New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras with abandon since French Roman Catholics brought the tradition to the bayous circa 1700. The season is a bacchanal attracting thousands of visitors each year. It concludes on Fat Tuesday and the massive cleanup earned Ash Wednesday the tongue-in-cheek moniker “Trash Wednesday.”


In Frederick, our Germanic heritage strikes at the heart of this annual celebration of mirth, food and drink. After all, the Teutonic rite of Fasching (festival) actually begins on Nov. 11 and continues through Shrove – or Fat – Tuesday. Afterward, we are instructed, God demands that we sober up, shun fatty foods and begin the preparation for Easter 46 days hence.


One would suppose God (“She?”) said the Steiner House matron may declare a “partial (not “plenary”) indulgence” for those doing the end run around Ash Wednesday. The absolution, as it were, of this indiscretion could include ignoring our loading up on the “kinklings,” gobbling our way to the 6 P.M. opening of the “Bourbon Street Blast.”


Our Mardi Gras is not meant to lead townspeople astray. It is the primary fund raiser for the club. Monies raised this year will support Mission of Mercy, Frederick, college scholarships and important maintenance costs for historic Steiner House (corner of West Patrick and Jefferson Streets).


King Proteus advises you to prepare for the big event. Take the leap of faith to February 25th and get out your best bib and tucker. You might also check out the want ads for kinkling bakers and place your order.


“Don’t fight the feelin’.”


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