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You may never know quite what to expect from the Krewe of Charleston, but you can rest assured it will never be boring. While the standard black-tie, mini-crab cakes and cocktails, silent auction, and dinner combination rarely fails to make both a successful fundraiser and enjoyable evening out, the Krewe of Charleston wowed their partygoers with grown men galloping about the Gaillard on paper-mache ponies, a glitter explosion, and the enormous heads of both Shrek and Mayor Joe Riley.

Lest we get ahead of ourselves, though, the evening did kick off with a cocktail hour filled with partygoers dressed to impress. Though many guests stepped out in more traditional floor length gowns and tuxes, the majority of the crowd enthusiastically embraced the Mardi Gras theme. The room was filled with sequins, glittering fabrics, feather boas, and many a mask from the get-go, and colonial gowns, top hats, and enormous feather headdresses crowded into the room as the cocktail hour wore on. The bigger the feathers, the more impressive the entrance, one couldn’t help surmising as several guests tottered under the doorway. Nearly everyone was overshadowed, however, by a chihuahua rocking an enormous plumed headdress and trailing bedazzled cape. “Her name is Bella of the Ball,” her handler explained. “She does parties!”

The scent of shrimp etouffee and jambalaya had people lining up at the food stations, while the extensive spread of dessert bites had many guests snagging seconds. People chatted and rubbed elbows of cocktails until the lights went up on the stage, and the evening’s festivities got underway. Everyone retired to their table as the first members of the extravagantly costumed court were paraded across the stage.

John Marshall McAvoy and Jenny Sullivan Sanford made their final round as last year’s King and Queen, and they were seated as this year’s court gathered around them, swathed in a sea of rhinestones, feathers, lace, sequins, and velvet. A parade of men swarmed the Gaillard atop paper-mache horses, accompanied by individuals staggering under the massive masks of Mayor Joe Riley, Shrek, and what appeared to be an escaped member of the Nutcracker. The crowd applauded loudly, and a glittering carriage bearing this year’s queen, Mrs. Susan Marlowe, brought up the rear. The queen joined Captain Brian Brennan on stage, where the two were officially crowned.

An explosion of glitter cascaded from the ceiling, and the Krewe of Charleston Royal Bal Masque officially had their 2012 court.

The Royal Bal Masque 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.