The Nereids Queen rides during the 2022 Krewe of Nereids parade in Waveland.

It’s time to laissez les bon temps rouler — last Thursday, Jan. 5, marked Twelfth Night, which signaled the beginning of the 2023 Carnival season, and there is a plethora of Mardi Gras activities planned in Hancock County.

“The first Mardi Gras celebration in Bay St. Louis occurred in 1896,” according to Waveland author Russell Guerin’s “Louisiana’s Loss, Mississippi’s Gain.”

“Walter Gex reigned as the first king. At age sixteen, Julia Olivari, who later became Mrs. Reginald Blaize, reigned as the first queen. The next year, Robert Perre was king.

“Bay St. Louis had its own distinctive form of observing the Mardi Gras in 1904. The morning of Tuesday, Feb. 17, was spent in individual masking. At 2:30 p.m., the royal yacht Mizpah was sighted near Pass Marianne, and shortly afterward,” according to the Feb. 20, 1904 edition of the Sea Coast Echo, “amid the booming of cannon and the strains of martial music, their gracious majesties landed at pier 990.

“The keys to the city were presented to Rex by Charles A. butler, Duke of Photography, who complimented his hinges in choosing Bay St. Louis as the capital of his kingdom, favoring it over the other towns along the coast. St. Stanislaus students sat down to their annual Mardi Gras spread at six o’clock and did annual justice to it.”

The Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse will kick 2023’s celebration off with its “Mutiny on the Bay Pirate Gala” on Saturday, Jan. 14, from 6:30-11 p.m. at the Longfellow Civic Center, 122 1/2 Court St. in Bay St. Louis. Doors open at 6:20 p.m., with the presentation at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door. For more, go to mkotsh.com.

This year will also mark the 44th year for the Krewe of Kids parade, which is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11, beginning at 11 a.m. Parade Captain Lisa Cowand said the parade will follow its traditional route, starting in front of Dunbar Village in Bay St. Louis for a toast with the elders there before traveling down Dunbar to Boardman, to B Street to Leonhard, back up to Dunbar, and then disband back where it started.

The krewe is seeking candidates for king and queen ages 5-12. Please send candidates’ information to Lisa Cowand, 1005 Dunbar Ave., Bay St. Louis, MS 39520 by Feb. 7.

The parade was founded in 1979 by Jake and Evelyn Cox Jacobs and the Cox children. It started out as a way to keep the kids busy and get rid of excess Mardi Gras throws, Evelyn’s daughter Kathy Mauffray said in 2016, but in 1979, her brother David -- then age 11 -- took it upon himself to go to the city and get a parade permit. That year, the first official “Krewe of Kids” parade was held on Lundi Gras.

The Krewe of Nereids will celebrate its 54th Carnival Ball and After Party on Jan. 28 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

Other Mardi Gras events scheduled include:

• Saturday, Jan. 21

7 p.m., Bay St.Louis Community Hall - Annual Krewe of Casa Mardi Gras Gala

• Saturday, Feb. 4

1 pm – Pass Christian Carnival Association Parade

• Saturday, Feb. 11

11 a.m., the Krewe of Kids parade, on Dunbar Avenue in Bay St. Louis, beginning across from Dunbar Village.

• Sunday, Feb. 12

Noon – Krewe of Nereids Parade, Bay St. Louis and Waveland

• Saturday, Feb. 18

Noon – Krewe of Diamondhead Mardi Gras Parade, Diamondhead

• Sunday, Feb. 19

Noon – St. Paul Carnival Association Parade, Pass Christian

• Monday, Feb. 20

5 pm – Krewe of the Seahorse Lundi Gras Golf Cart Parade, Bay St. Louis

• Fat Tuesday, Feb. 21

1 pm – Krewe of Diamonds Mardi Gras Parade, Bay St. Louis

If you’d like to add a Mardi Gras event to the listing, please email Geoff Belcher at gbelcher@seacoastecho.com.

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