Donaldsonville Elks Lodge #1153 kick off the carnival season

Darian Graivshark
Exalted Ruler Neil Dugas hands out a flower which includes a clue to the ball theme to Heather Thibodaux Dore as she exits the coronation.

As a benevolent and national organization, the Elks originally began in 1868, with the first chapter being in New York City.

The Donaldsonville Elks chapter began in 1908, and they are Lodge #1153. The first Exalted Ruler, or President, was R.N. Sims in 1909. This makes the chapter over 100 years old.

Lodge #1153 has consistently maintained a membership of over 120 members throughout the years and has recently had some women join the chapter.

One of the things we do is donate to the Elks National Foundation. Every year, we will take about $2,500 dollars from that and write a technology grant for Ascension Catholic High School. With this, they’ll purchase new items, like computers, for students to use,” Rev Vega, a previous Exalted Ruler, said.

Drug awareness is also a focus of theirs, and every year they have a drug poster contest. Students will typically design a poster about drug awareness, and then the winners will receive a bike if their drawing is chosen. In the following year, their design is put into a drug awareness coloring book.

On November 25, the Elks kicked off the carnival season with a coronation of some members for Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras first began in 1699, but the first documented parade wasn’t until about 1837. The colors that we see every year (purple, green, and gold) represent justice, faith, and power, respectively. A coronation represents the start of the carnival season for most who celebrate this way. During this time a King, Pages and Heralds, and Lords and Maids are typically presented. The Queen, however, will not be presented until their Mardi Gras Ball on February 23 of 2019.

The first in the coronation was Neil Dugas, the current Exalted Ruler for the Elks and the King Jolly Goodfellow LXXXVI. The Squire, Blaze Albrecht is next to him. Next, the first Royal Couple was presented. These were Liz Fiato and Brian Albrecht. Both of them volunteer for the Donaldsonville Fire Department.

Then, Stardust Roberts Matherne and Todd Matherne were presented. Todd has served in the U.S. Air Force, and Stardust recently joined the Elks. They were followed by Greg Fischer and Carrie Iddins Scallan.

The fourth Royal Couple was Heather Thibodaux Dore and Jamison Dore. The fifth was Rodney Bennett Vega, who loves his three Jack Russell Terriers. Unfortunately, the person Rodney would be escorting, DeeDee DiBenedetto, was unable to attend the event.

I just want to thank each and every one of you for being here. This is such a great time, and I can’t wait to celebrate the carnival season with all of you,” Dugas said.

The coronation ended with a toasting and the handing out of roses that each contained a clue about what the theme of the Mardi Gras Ball would be.

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