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Knights of Momus History

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 close of the War Between the States, the citizens of Galveston proclaimed the island's first public celebration of Mardi Gras. It was a 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 families from all over the state vied to become duchesses, and the event was covered in the society pages of The New York Times. Elaborate coronations, exclusive masked balls and large public celebrations were the order of the day.

Following the outbreak of World War II in 1941, Galveston's Mardi Gras celebrations ceased. 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 Mitchell, in 1984, suggested restarting the island’s oldest Mardi Gras Krewe and committed substantial resources and personal energy and effort.  

With that encouragement, an influential group of iIsland civic leaders – Kenneth R. Shelton Jr., E. Douglas McLeod Jr., James L. Ware, Michael C. Doherty, Vincent J. Tramonte, William S. Cherry and John H. Spencer, Dancie Perugini Ware, and Joan McLeod – formally resurrected and incorporated the Knights of Momus. A week of festivities celebrated Mardi Gras' return to the iIsland, including the dazzling Momus Grand Night Parade, a torchlit-night parade presented by George Mitchell to coincide with the gala opening of the Tremont House Hotel in the historic Strand District. Working with Mr. Mitchell and the newly formed Knights of Momus, Dancie Ware turned the Momus Grand Night Parade into a spectacular event and choreographed a week of festivities to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Named for the Greek God of merriment, the krewe of the Knights of Momus is a support organization whose chief purpose is the perpetuation of the Galveston Mardi Gras, not only through its own activities, but by encouraging the formation of other krewes and helping them participate in the celebration.

To this day, fun and frivolity has become contagious each year as the spirit of the Knights of Momus continues throughout the Mardi Gras season.


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