An evening to remember at “Pearls and Prohibition,” the Tremont House Mardi Gras Ball in Galveston
By Sara G. Stephens, Managing Editor, Houston Family Magazine
My husband, John, and I don’t usually celebrate Mardi Gras. But this year, we decided to shake loose from the suburbs and head to Galveston for the annual celebration. Over the years, we had heard fantastic things about the Tremont House Mardi Gras Ball, but had always found life’s little excuses (our two kids) presented obstacles to our attending. This year’s ball, however, had a Pearls & Prohibition theme, and nothing was going to keep this Boardwalk-Empire-Downton-Abbey crazed couple from joining the fun.
John and I had an evening beyond compare. The Tremont House was beautifully decorated, every room dripping in pearls and christened with chandeliers, boasting the unmistakable swank of the Roaring 20s. The sultry sounds of jazz seeped dreamily into every pocket of the hotel, adding to the mood and festivity of the evening. Oh, and the costumes! Gangster fedoras dropped mysterious shadows on zoot-suit-clad fellas proudly escorting their flapper-fringed babes through the lobby. They headed to the street—an entire block that the Tremont House had cordoned off for an exclusive parade viewing by guests of the ball. For those who tired of standing, exquisitely appointed tents with tables and chairs lined the sidewalk.
After the parade, all the guys and dolls enjoyed a lavish dinner back in the hotel. We met people of every age and background, shared jokes, told stories, exchanged phone numbers, then agreed to go as a group to the Tremont House ballroom across the street, where, for me, the real fun began. At the base of the ballroom’s sweeping staircase, a friendly gaggle of speakeasy saloon girls greeted us with smiles and priceless photo opps. But the irresistible sound of jazz drew us quickly up the stairs.
We entered the ballroom, setting immediate tracks to the bar. As we stood in line, I remarked to John that I felt I had truly stepped back in time and was smack-dab in the middle of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. We danced–a lot–which is uncommon for John, and a monumental tribute to the hit band Zoot Suit Riot, the DJ who followed, and the level of merriment the evening inspired in us. And when we finally couldn’t tap another toe on the dance floor, we padded happily over to the opposite end of the ballroom, where we lined up for a midnight breakfast buffet. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to eat anything else only hours after such a fine dinner, but those pancakes and sausages were just what the doctor ordered!
Best of all, after the last dance was danced, and the last morsel swallowed, I took my fella’s arm and walked my “could have danced all night” shoes across the street to The Tremont House, our home for the evening–and for all future Mardi Gras celebrations. A new tradition has been born, and we can’t wait to see what the next year brings.