Never too old for Mardi Gras

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 9, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – The residents of Twin Oaks Nursing Home and Maison Oaks got all dressed to get their groove on for the annual Mardi Gras Carnival Ball on Tuesday. The residents were treated to food, live music from Louis Ford and the N.O. Flair, dancing and a special escort by St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre and his staff.
Tregre, Sgt. Marshall Carmouche and Deputy Cindy Faucheux attended the event to help escort the royal court. The 2013 Twin Oaks King and Queen were Leroy Lewis and Mary Ann Stein. The 2013 Maison Oaks Queen was Martha Hymel. The participating maids were Juanita Silvy, Marie Lee, Rita Granier, Shirley Kirklin, Marjorie Noble, Grace Lacoste, Stella Fenech, Carmen Reno, Rainey Perry and Wanda Brown. The dukes of the royal court were Charles Williams, Irby Gaubert and Earl Nezat.
Former Maison Oaks Queen, Alice Shefcyk, 85, said she looks forward to the event every year. Shefcyk received many compliments on her teal ensemble as she strolled down the balloon-decorated aisle.
“It was beautiful. It was really nice and I enjoyed it. I’m always excited to participate,” she said.
Activity Director Teresa Brooks said the ball tradition has been going on since she began working at Twin Oaks. She said she gets many requests to become king or queen from both residents and their families, but she tries to make the selection process as fair as possible.
“When they hear about the ball, they always say ‘Am I the queen?’ or ‘Are you going to pick me for the queen?’ And a lot of family members have called and asked if their parents can be royalty,” she said. “We tried everything before, like voting on it, but they didn’t feel like it was fair. Now we have to draw it out of the hat and do it front of them so they will know we honestly did it randomly.
“The male participation around here is very slack. They don’t want to do anything here but sit on that front porch and smoke and eat. They will come out if there is food. I don’t know how the veterans’ home does it,” she said smiling.
Brooks said that planning the ball is hard work, but she does her best to make it as professional as possible with help from the staff. She did get a little help from barber John Swafford, who gave free haircuts to all the male participants.
“It’s fun just to see the childlike innocence in their face, knowing that they’ve done this so many times,” said Brooks. “It’s exciting to see them react. We have a good time.”