The Krewe of the Knights of Momus
The Knights of Momus is the grandest and oldest Krewe supporting the social and civic efforts of Galveston’s historic Mardi Gras, the traditional carnival of feasting and merrymaking that precedes the solemn season of Lent. In 1867, just two years after the War Between the States, the citizen’s of Galveston proclaimed the Island’s first Mardi Gras celebration. It was the first for Texas as well.
Shortly thereafter in 1871, a group of Galveston’s most distinguished citizens formed the Knights of Momus. Frivolity and unpretentious and exuberant fun marked these early celebrations, with elaborate invitations, torch-lit night parades, royal balls, and stunning costumes. A different theme was chosen each year, and everyone involved – from revelers to restaurants, saloons, and gambling halls – followed that theme.
From the onset, this legendary festival grew until its spirit embraced all of the Southwest. Parades and balls became more elaborate, attracting visitors from across the South. Young ladies “of family” from all over the state vied to become duchesses, and the event was reported in the society pages of The New York Times. Elaborate coronations, exclusive masked balls and large public celebrations were the order of the day.
During World War Two, Galveston’s Mardi Gras celebrations ceased. After the war, attempts to restore Mardi Gras were not very successful. However, the spirit of Mardi Gras was kept alive by organizations such as Treasure Ball and the Galveston Artillery club which continued to celebrate the event with private coronations.
In 1982 efforts began to revive the event with a public street dance on the Strand. In 1983 and 1984 events increased in size and scope and in 1984 King Frivolous and queen were again chosen.
Having observed rekindled interest, George P. Mitchell, in 1984, suggested restarting the island’s oldest Mardi Gras Krewe and committed substantial resources and personal energy and effort.
In 1985, Kenneth R. Shelton Jr., E.Douglas McLeod, James L. Ware, Michael C. Doherty, Vincent J. Tramonte, William S. Cherry, and John H. Spencer formally incorporated the Knights of Momus.
Working with Mr. Mitchell, and the newly formed Knight of Momus, Dancie Ware turned the Momus Grand Night Parade into a spectacular event and choreographed a week of festivities to celebrate Mardi Gras.
In 1986, largely at the insistence of John Spencer, who arranged for Queen Elizabeth II’s dress maker to create gowns for the Momus Duchesses, the Knights of Momus again held and elaborate coronation ball at Galveston’s 1894 Grand Opera House. Since that time Joan McLeod has recruited and overseen scores of young ladies, all the daughters of Momus members, who have been presented at the Ball.
Mardi Gras, Galveston with all its frivolity and glitter has captured the imagination and moved the spirit of the city. Today many Krewes have joined Momus and the event is made possible by the efforts of thousands of volunteers. Young and old, visitor and native, all share in camaraderie and fun, and, for a little while, at least, the cares of the world dissolve into a magical time in a magic city.
Once again Momus proclaims Mardi Gras
DUM VIVIMUS VIVAMUS