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Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

By Melanie Moffett
In Center Block
Feb 1st, 2014

MGQueen MGKing

Krewe of Janus XXXI Taps Classic for 2014 Parade Scheduled on February 15, 2014

article by Michael DeVault | photography by Joli Livaudais

LeeBo Alderman can hardly wait for the 31st Annual Mardi Gras Parade to roll through the Twin Cities come February 15. He’s got good reason to be excited, because he’s got another name: King Janus XXXI. It’s an honor and privilege he owes to his sister, Lynda Alderman—who’s currently reigning as Queen Janus XXXI.  “She asked if I wanted to do it, and it sounded like a lot of fun,” LeeBo told BayouLife Magazine. “My sister happened to be the queen, who twisted my arm pretty well.”

Parade captain and long-time Krewe member Steve Courteau notes it’s not just about throwing a parade and picking a royal court. Krewe of Janus life is about service to the community. “The krewe is a charity in and of itself,” says Courteau. “But in addition to being a charity, putting on the parade and having the ball, we also donate to another charity each year, from the various fundraisers we hold throughout the year.” The charity for 2014 is the American Heart Association “Go Red For Women” campaign. Through tee-shirt sales at a RiverMarket booth, a cookbook, and other initiatives, the Krewe of Janus funds the parade and a sizable donation to that campaign.

Also, its popular Texas Hold’em Poker tournaments have become so popular the Krewe hosts two tournaments a month now. “Part of the proceeds are used to help fund the Krewe and part of the proceeds help fund our contributions to the annual charity.” The hard work and generocity shows. So far in 2014, the Krewe of Janus has donated $1,500 to the Go Red campaign—roughly $100 a day, LeeBo notes.

At the heart of it all, though, Courteau and the Aldermans both point out that the Krewe of Janus is a way to connect to a larger community and to be a part of one of the region’s signature events. Courteau has been on board since the Krewe’s second year. “I thought it would be a great way to socialize with people,” Courteau says. “I had just moved back to the Monroe area after college and wanted to get involved.”

Usually, the Krewe of Janus king and queen are a husband-wife combo. Only once before have brother and sister served—when Lori Martin Bernard and Todd Martin served. The only difference, Lynda points out, is they didn’t serve in the same year. “They weren’t king and queen at the same time,” Lynda says.

For the Alderman clan, Krewe life is part of family life. Lynda credits that to her mother, Ramona Welch, a Krewe member herself. Lynda joined the Krewe five years ago, “when Mother decided I needed to get a life.”

“It’s part of our family,” Lynda says. At her mother’s urging, she joined the Krewe of Janus and immediately got involved in a host of Krewe activities.

“The very first thing I did was serve as a duchess to Queen Janus XXVI, Diana Pahal,” Lynda says. That same year, LeeBo joined the court as a duke for King Janus XXVI, Mike Pahal. The royal court that year served as the first exposure LeeBo had to the work of the Krewe king and queen. “It really didn’t give me an insight into what all is actually involved,” LeeBo says.

The year-long reign of the king and queen begins in September, when the new king and queen are crowned. For the most part, September through December are quiet months. That all changes January 5th, Twelfth Night, when the king and queen are presented at a party thrown in their honor. “It all gets really crazy, starting with Twelfth Night,” Lynda says. “That’s when you’re presented for the first time in your official costume.”

The costume, or “regalia” to krewe insiders, sets the tone for the king and queen’s reign. Satin gowns beaded and sequined for the queen, and a sequined and beaded tunic for the king join a crown, white gloves and white shoes. That all gets topped off by the mantel, the signature piece of royal Mardi Gras regalia. Six feet wide and more than five feet tall, each of the mantels weighs more than ten pounds. The mantel is constructed out of satin, other fabrics, several yards of lace, brocade, feathers and more than 5,000 sequins. Worn on the shoulders, it rises up behind the royals, highlighting their prominence. This costume is what drew LeeBo to the idea of becoming Mardi Gras king in the first place. “The main thing that excites me is all the dressing up, the showing off and getting to run around being the big dog. That’s just me in general anyway. I like flaunting,” he says playfully.

But it’s not all playing dress-up. There’s a lot of work to be done. Between Twelfth Night and the parade, ten-hour days aren’t uncommon. “We’re just starting to spend all the time at area events,” LeeBo says. “And because we’ve always been a close family, I’m looking forward to it.”

Among the duties of the king and queen are numerous television appearances—they’ve already been on the air four times since September, with another four visits scheduled in January and February. They visit schools, nursing homes and hospitals. And, earlier in their reign, they rode in the Tallulah Christmas Parade.

It doesn’t stop February 15, either. “We’ve got events scheduled after Mardi Gras already,” LeeBo says. “That calendar’s starting to fill up.”

Lynda said she enjoyed the Tallulah parade experience, calling it an honor to be able to represent the Krewe and the community as a whole. “We’re so honored just to be able to represent the Krewe,” she says. “And I knew it was a big deal, but I didn’t realize how big a deal until we were elected. It’s just an incredibly experience.”

Talking to the Alderman siblings, it would be easy to forget their “real” lives apart from the mantel and the regalia, the beads and their names on cups. But LeeBo is a computer programmer who manages a web hosting service, owns rental properties and works as a manager for the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Lynda is an I.T. analyst at CenturyLink. Even then, she finds Krewe life creeping into work life.

“I’ve had a lot of coworkers stop by my desk and tell me they saw me on T.V. or in the newspaper,” she says. “It’s exciting, but it can be kind of embarrassing because you’re just trying to work, do your job, and be a regular Joe.”

Yet, there’s a twinkle in her eye when she thinks about her experience so far. And, she’s certainly looking forward to one thing: the school visits, which represent one of the most significant royal duties each year.

Lynda says the excitement the children demonstrate is genuine, because fairy tales and fantasy are still fun at that young age. Her predecessors have all tried to prepare her for how excited the kids get when the king and queen arrive.
“So that’s what I’m really looking forward to. That and, well, getting to wear the dress and the crown.”

She laughs and shrugs it off.

“Who doesn’t love playing dress up?”