The Young Men Illinois Club took its members and invited guests "Around the World in 80 Days," at its annual Carnival ball on Feb. 10 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. This classic adventure novel by Jules Verne chronicled the travels of adventurer Phineas Fogg, who accepted a wager to travel the world in 80 days. For the Young Men Illinois Club, the ball captain Lawrence Robinson used elements the book (and subsequent movie) to craft an entertaining evening.
Guests entered the convention center's New Orleans Theater via a walkway lined with images of the ball's queen, maids and debutantes, with each young lady representing a continent. Fanciful mini-balloons in bright colors hung from the ceiling, and the curtain was down, waiting to be drawn after the queen was presented.
To signal the start of the ball, Clark Knighten and the Black Cat Production Orchestra began to play a medley of tunes associated with the theme. The 40 members of the club, founded in 1926, was then announced followed by special recognition of former queens; court etiquette specialist, Rosalyn Kay; Original Illinois Club President Lynn J. Dedeaux and 2017 ball Captain Gregory Perrault Jr.; King Zulu-elect Adonis C. Expose and his queen Donna Glapion, Zulu President Naaman Stewart, board Chair Andrew Sanchez Jr. and Carnival activities Chair Dennis Robertson Sr.; Krewe of NOMTOC King Wilfred Dennis Jr. and Queen Jada C. Washington, President James Henderson Jr. and coronation ball Chairman Ed DeBiew.
Reigning queen, Miss Lauren Elizabeth Bagneris, daughter of club member Emile A. Bagneris and Suzette Peychaud Bagneris, entered, and after taking her seat on a side throne with a few of her princesses from her reign, the presentation began.
Entering the ballroom were debutantes Misses Nina Maya Blue, Karrington Loren Knight, Alycia Janea Artis, and Madison Alana Keller, followed by three royal maids: Third Maid Miss Kaylor Keairah Magee; Second Maid: Miss Alyssa Karin Brown; and First Maid Miss Mia Simone Augillard.
Thirteen princesses appeared on the ballroom floor to create an honor walkway for the queen. Princesses included: Misses Jada Renee Anderson, Kelsie Marie Dejan, Isabella Lee James, Kai Elizabeth Jones, Alyssa Mackenzie Larks, Arianna Angelle Marrero, Jade Carol Mason, Whitney Karen Neal, Deryn Anaya Patin, Chastity Rena Spencer-Thomas, Chayil Amaya Spencer-Thomas, Olivia Rose Williams and Journey Norris Wills.
The curtain then parted for Queen Candace Nia Smith, daughter of club Vice President Mr. Clinton Tracy Smith and Dr. Kelly D. Smith to make her entrance. She wore a gown with a white satin bodice adorned with English lace heavily beaded with pearls, crystals, and rhinestones that flowed into the full white skirt embellished with rhinestones and topped by a white sheer organza overlay. A crystal and rhinestone trim accentuated the skirt, the neckline and the skirt's drop V-shaped waistline. The queen's ensemble was completed with the club's mantle.
After Queen Candace made her entrance, the curtain was raised to reveal the maids and debutantes on stage waiting for her to join them. Once she was situated, her six pages were introduced: Mason Alexander Amos, Atari Levar Raymond Jr. and Ayden Joseph Ratleff and Misses Bethany Arinn McCormick, Sydney Carol Mason and Brooke Alexis Page.
Angele Arceneaux Marrero, 1989 queen, was presented to Queen Candace followed by President Dr. Terrence Augillard leading the toast to the queen, who was one of two, including debutante Nina Maya Blue to be awarded scholarships this night. (Queen Candace was given hers for raising the most revenue, Miss Blue was randomly chosen from a bowl with debutantes' names in it.) Members of Opera Creole appeared on stage to perform the song "Around the World in 80 Days" from the movie adaption before Queen Candace and her father led the court in the grand promenade. Club members then participated the traditional waltz with the debutantes and spouses. A queen's supper concluded the evening's journey.
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