The St. Joseph Parochial School introduced the first nuns in Gretna, the Sisters of Christian Charity as teachers in 1871. St. Joseph School went on to educate thousands of children until its closure in 1992.

1936 1st Queen Shirley Boudreaux (Taravella)

As the Mardi Gras season was celebrated and enjoyed all over the New Orleans area, so was it celebrated at St. Joseph School with two Carnival Balls. There was a Kindergarten Ball and a Grammar School Ball. We managed to gather the following pictures from the events, and names that could be found, with a few short stories added. 

The first Mardi Gras Ball for the St. Joseph Kindergarten students was held in 1936. Shirley Boudreaux (Taravella) was the first queen and Vernon John Wilty Jr., the first king.                                           

1947 Court

In 1947, the Kindergarten Ball had a large court. Those maids that could be identified were, Linda Ehret (LaBorde), Linda Gonzales (Breaux), Pat Crowley (Keller), Kathleen Schouest (France), Diane Flesch, Rosemarie (?), Sandra Boyer (Duplantis) and Ann Landry (Fryou.) The only dukes identified in the picture were James Heurtin and Lawrence Boudreaux.

1949 Queen Diane d’Aquin (Crawford) & King Arthur Gaspard

In 1949, King Arthur Gaspard and Queen Diane d’Aquin (Crawford) reigned at the Ball.

In 1953, Linda Ehret (LaBorde) was a maid and Robin Murphy, her duke in the Grammar School Ball, which also happened at St. Joseph School each year.                                                                   

1953 Duke Robin Murphy & Maid Linda Ehret (LaBorde)

In 1959, Gretna Councilman Jackie Berthelot fell in love with Mardi Gras when he and Kevin Hotard were picked by lottery to be pages in the Kindergarten Carnival Ball. Tucker Frederick was the king that year, but the queen is unknown.                             

1959 Pages Kevin Hotard & Jackie Berthelot

In 1961, the first King Vernon Wilty Jr. and Queen Shirley B. Taravella returned to be presented at the 25th Anniversary Ball. At this time, Wilty was the Jefferson Parish Assessor. The first queen’s daughter, Rhonda Taravella (Panepinto,) was a maid at the big 25th celebration.

In 1966, King R. Sean Sullivan and Queen Sandra Miller (now Donewar) reigned at the Kindergarten Ball. Sean was the great-grandson of Emma Whiteside, a colorful historic figure who owned Whiteside’s Restaurant in Gretna. His great-uncle was Leycester Trauth, the first King of Grela in 1948.                                                              

1966 King R. Sean Sullivan

Sean’s white velvet costume, sewn by his mother, Marion Trauth Sullivan was that of a matador. The costume was adorned with a bejeweled bull on the train. Sean’s mom, his Aunt Dorothy “Dot” Trauth Cazaubon and Aunt Lillian Trauth robbed their costume jewelry of every stone they could find to sew on the costume. The ladies took turns sewing the beads on the costume which was quite a feat since they all worked full time at the restaurant.  

The idea for this article came from Rhonda Panepinto whose Mom was the first Kindergarten Queen at St. Joseph’s. The pictures she sent started off the quest for additional shots. A few texts later and more pictures were received. Thanks to all who brought us a bit of Gretna history.

It would be interesting to see how many others were also in the courts. If any of you have pictures from the St. Joseph Kindergarten or Grammar School Balls, please send them to us in JPEG format and name those in the pictures. They will be held in a file to run in a blog article prior to Carnival in 2023!

To close out the 2022 Carnival Season, plan on being at “Grela Celebrates Lundi Gras 2022” on Mon, Feb 28, 6:00 -10:00 p.m. at the Gretna Marketplace. Bring the family and “Party on the Huey” at this free event. Enjoy music by Chicken on the Bone!