Krewe of Galatea Tableau and Ball – Morgan City

February 9, 2023

The Galatea Ball and Tableau has quickly become one of our favorite events of the year.  This mystic Mardi Gras Krewe, based in Morgan City, Louisiana, is celebrating its 54th year.  Each year, they choose a theme that will carry through the costumes and floats on parade day.   This year the theme was Flight of Fancy, all about the folklore and legends of Louisiana.  Even though I grew up right outside of New Orleans and I’ve ridden in, marched in, and attended countless parades over the years, there is so much that I didn’t know about the Krewes that participate in these parades.  I know everyone does things a little differently and it varies by city, town, parade and krewe, so I’m sharing a few things I’ve learned in the last 2 years of attending and photographing this event and parade.

A “mystic” krewe is one where the riders all stay masked throughout the entire parade.  The captain of Galatea stays masked and anonymous throughout the ball, tableau, and parade.  Galatea is an all-female krewe but they do have a king, dukes, escorts and male pages.   The king and the dukes participate in the ball and tableau but do not ride on parade day.  They can be found in the review stand where each float with a court member on it stops to toast the king.  This includes the queen’s float, parade lieutenant, captain, and each maid.

While some krewes announce their royalty months in advance, Galatea’s court is announced on the day of the ball and tableau.   The court members stay a secret, sometimes even from their families.  This year, there were 2 dukes that managed to keep the secret from their wives, a duke whose family didn’t know and the queen’s daughter was shocked when her mom was crowned!    Capturing their expressions this year was a lot of fun!

After the court is announced, everyone has to get dressed for formal photos and the tableau.  Since the queen has been kept a secret, she has to get her hair and make-up done as well as get into her elaborate costume.  I learned last year that the queen takes part in shopping trips and design meetings to complete her costume.  I’m not sure how much input the other court members have on their costumes, but this is something new I have yet to learn!   Here are some of the costume details from this year:

After everyone is finished getting dressed, it’s time for the court formals.  We have 3 photographers going at the same time by this point.   My sister, Amanda, is bouncing around the back rooms, capturing everyone getting ready, especially the queen and king.  Carley and I stand back to back, shooting in different directions.  I’m focused on the court members who are on the stage while Carley is photographing the float groups.   The court formals consist of many different variations and groups and can get hectic as time begins to run out.   We only have a window of about 1 1/2 hours to get everything done before we have to clear out of the ballroom to get ready for the tableau.

Here is the entire court of Galatea LIV:

After the formals are completed, it’s time for the tableau.  Invited guests are seated around the room where they await the presentation of the court members.  The lighting and narration really make this an exciting part of the day as everyone is introduced to the year’s theme.   Each maid and duke couple represents a different part of the theme such as the Rougarou, Vampire, Sir Peacock, and the Myrtles plantation.  There is a story and background for each couple as well as for the queen, king, parade lieutenant and captain.   But first each float group is introduced, also representing a part of the theme.   This year, each group was a different superstition.

The board members, parade lieutenant, and captain also have a moment to be spotlighted and each also has a story.

Each maid and duke couple are then introduced as their characters:

Followed by the King of Galatea representing Le Feu Follette and his pages:

And finally, there is a blackout followed by dramatic lighting as the Queen of Galatea is announced, representing Marie Laveau:

Once the court is announced, there are special guest presentations, a second line, and special dances followed by a final grand march out of the ballroom and into the concourse where the captain toasts to the queen and king.   All of the guests then make their way through a receiving line before going back into the ballroom to dance the night away to a live band.

Morgan City has such a special place in my heart and always will, which is why this event is one of my favorites.  This small town full of kind and welcoming people opened their arms to me when we first moved there in 2007, embracing my brand new business and helping it to suceed very quickly.  Although we only spent 5 years there before moving to Houma (a necessity due to my husband’s job), I still return often to not only photograph weddings but to visit some of my favorite places such as Sweet and Simple, Lake End Park and Cafe JoJo.  The Galatea Ball and Tableau gives me an opportunity to see so many of those special faces who first supported me almost 15 years ago!  Some of the very first families and high school seniors that I photographed as well as many of my past wedding couples and of course, clients who I still photograph today and have come to see as friends.

So to them as well as the rest of the Krewe of Galatea who have been so kind and welccoming over the last two years – thank you so much!   I look forward to many future years of capturing your events.   I’ll see you guys on parade day!

For anyone wanting to see these amazing costumes in person, the Krewe of Galatea will roll at 2pm on Sunday, February 19 in Morgan City.   Hope to see you there!