Hephaestus’ lineage spans 100 years

Troy Landry and Alison Bergeron, daughter of Steven and Lois Bergeron, reigned as King and Queen Hephaestus LIV over the royal court of Morgan City’s oldest krewe. They were announced during the krewe’s ball Saturday at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium. The Krewe of Hephaestus will parade Fat Tuesday at 2 p.m. in Morgan City.
Submitted Photo/Jim Byron

By JEAN L. McCORKLE jkaess@daily-review.com

The Krewe of Hephaestus is the oldest Mardi Gras krewe in the Tri-City area, spanning 54 years. Its lineage, however, begins with the now-defunct Krewe of Cervus.
Hephaestus is the Greek god of fire, metalworking, stonemasonry and the art of sculpture. The son of Zeus and Hera is usually depicted as a bearded man holding hammer and tongs and riding a donkey.
The Morgan City Krewe of Hephaestus was organized in 1961 through the Morgan City Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary. At that time, it was a women’s krewe, and Alberta Jendron was selected its first president.
Rulers of the first court, titled “Winter Wonderland,” were Pat Boudreaux and Louis Hebert. It was held in the M.D. Shannon school auditorium on Jan. 10, 1961.
Courts continued to be held at the school until 1966 when the celebration moved to the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium.
Hephaestus organized its first parade in 1968, after a 29-year absence of carnival parades. The krewe evolved into a co-ed organization in 1970 under president Mrs. Orrin Christ Sr. The first royalty under the reorganization were Vincent Cannata and Claire Guarisco. Christy served as captain.
It was a union between two krewes that gives Hephaestus its lineage.
The Hephaestus royalty joined with the Cervus and PTA royalty in 1970-71. When Kings Club and Queens Club members gather for a Mardi Gras celebration, surviving Cervus/PTA are invited to join the festivities.
Cervus began in 1914 when Frank Prohaska organized the first court celebration for the Elks. A formal court ruled by King Cervus Alces I was represented by Joseph Dryer (former Morgan City mayor) and Queen Leta Prohaska.
All boats were in port as the king’s yacht “Alberta” met the street parade at the City Wharf. The parade featured 24 horse-drawn floats and 32 automobiles. Aviator Maroney and his “flying machine” performed daring antics over Berwick Bay.
The celebration was held Tuesday, Feb. 24, and was the first true celebration in 20 years. It also was reported that on the following day it snowed for the first time in 14 years.
World War I caused a lapse in court presentations as did the stock market crash of 1929.
From 1934 to 1937, the PTA kings and queens would rule once again. World War II resulted in no formal courts being presented in both 1943 and 1944. However, Coast Guardsmen and U.S. Navy personnel stationed in Morgan City took part in impromptu activities at the Brashear Avenue gym (now Shannon Elementary). Royalty for 1943 was chosen by drawing with J.R. Hardee Jr. as king and Jane Smith as queen.
In 1944, a king was picked from the servicemen in attendance. Selected was Jerry Satterlee who chose Zelma Grabert as his queen.
Cervus royalty would remain uninterrupted until the line ended in 1966.
The combined royalty of Cervus, PTA and Hephaestus has seen 94 kings and queens, 54 for Hephaestus and 40 for Cervus/PTA. Six years overlapped with Cervus and Hephaestus organizations both naming royalty from 1961-1966.
That lineage continues this year with Troy Landry and Alison Bergeron chosen as King and Queen Hephaestus LIV.
The Hephaestus parade, with its rich heritage spanning a century together with its predecessor, is scheduled to roll at 2 p.m. today through Morgan City.

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