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If Mardi Gras and Halloween had a child, that bebe probably would have been running around in sequined, feathered glory at The Krewe of Charleston’s Mardi Gras Ball, alongside the likes of Carmen Miranda, the Phantom of the Opera, Marilyn Monroe, Cruella deVille, and a real dog sporting a fully bedazzled tunic.

Revelers stepped out in their shimmering masquerade finest, donning masks, hats, and headdresses—or whatever fabulous costume finery was lurking in their attics. It was a glittering, opulent parade of “Anything Goes” as guests made their way to the cocktail hour, sporting everything from this season’s chicest gowns to a pink, sparkling pantsuit trimmed in feathers to a gentleman’s pirate costume. “If you think this is outrageous, wait until you see what’s going on backstage!” one masked guest muttered in passing.

Charlestonians love a themed fete, and everyone happily sipped cocktails while excitedly peering through their masks and exclaiming over each other’s costumes. The mood was somewhere between celebratory and just plain giddy, and after snagging a few delicious corn fritters, I poked my head backstage for a sneak peek of the evening’s parade.

There, I found a colorful chaos of brilliant, rhinestone-encrusted costumes; feathers; and massive, teetering headdresses. Gentlemen checked for runs in their tights while the ladies struggled to control enormous bustles and trains that seemed to stretch for miles, and a few excited children seemed to be everywhere at once, easily slipping through the small spaces in between.

Soon everyone was being ushered into the main hall for the evening’s festivities. An awesome band took the energy level up a few notches as the lead singer dropped to the floor in a series of awe-inspiring splits, and elaborately costumed ladies tossed beads into the crowd. The presentation of The 2011 Krewe Court got underway, naming Jenny Sullivan Sanford the Queen of Charleston and John Marshall McAvoy as King.

The night was nothing if not highly entertaining, and best of all The Krewe Mardi Gras Grand Ball benefited the MUSC Children’s Hospital Fund. The Krewe of Charleston was established in 2009, and as the only Mardi Gras Krewe on the U.S. Atlantic Coast, they aim to transform Charleston into the next major destination for Mardi Gras in the U.S.A.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!