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History of the Knights of Momus

Mardi Gras has been publicly celebrated on Galveston Island since 1867 and private masquerade balls marked the season as early as the 1840s. Galveston's 1867 Mardi Gras was the first official observance of the festival not only for the Island but also for the State of Texas.

During the 1870's the celebration drew into torchlit night parades, balls at which royalty for organizations was presented, stunning costumes, and elaborate invitations were developed. Each year a different theme was selected and events coordinated with the theme.

In 1871 the Knights of Momus was founded and the krewe led by several dozen prominent Galvestonians decorated a number of horse-drawn wagons and paraded through downtown streets ending at Turner Hall where a tableaux was presented followed by a grand ball. Members of the Knights of Momus Committee included notables General E.B. Nichols, Dr. William R. Smith, General T.N. Waul, Isdore Dyer, P.J. Willis, J.W. Jockusch, John Sealy, and James Sorley.

The 1917 masked ball marked the first appearance of the King and Queen of Galveston Mardi Gras and their Royal Court. The King was crowned Knigh Frivolous, the Greek God of Mirth, and the name was passed to his successors. Traditionally, the king and his queen were chosen in secret and their identities were kept secret until the Coronation Ball.

The citywide celebration was interrupted by events such as the 1900 Storm and the years of rebuilding the Island, World War I, and World War II. Following World War II the event disappeared as a public celebration but kept alive in private organizations.

George and Cynthia Mitchell envisioned reinstating Galveston's splendid tradition of Mardi Gras. In 1985 the Mitchell's dramatic restoration project, The Tremont House Hotel presented the perfect opportunity. Dancie P. Ware was tasked by the Mitchells to serve as Chairman and Creative Director of the opening event which featured a mile-long Grand Night Parade, dazzling floats created by the New Orleans float builder Blaine Kern, hundreds of musicians in marching bands led by famed clarinetist Pete Fountain, and ending at a Grand Ball at the Tremont House Hotel. An estimated 250,000 onlookers arrived on the Island to enjoy and celebrate.

With the 1985 renaissance of Mardi Gras Galveston the Knights of Momus was formally revived, membership solicited and the organization was officially incorporated. The Founders Kenneth R. Shelton, E. Douglas McLeod, James L. Ware, Michael C. Doherty, Vincent J. Tramonte, John H. Spencer, and William S. Cherry began the planning and organization of the 1986 Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade and Coronation Ball which was held at the Grand 1984 Opera House.

John H. Spencer arranged for Hard Amies, the dressmaker of the Queen of England, to create gowns for the Momus Dutchesses. A glittering ball followed the coronation of Knigh Frivolous and the Queen.

Since that time, Joan W. McLeod has recruited duchesses and became an Honorary Royalty Trustee and Dancie P. Ware became an Honorary Founding Trustee.

With annual Coronation Balls and Grand Night Parades, the next era of the Knights of Momus began.

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