The longest reigning king and queen in Krewe of Des Allemands history are ready to rock and — finally — roll.
“We’re going rain or shine, and we’re ready,” said Mary Ann Cortez.
She and her husband Michael will ride as queen and king, respectively, when the Krewe of Des Allemands parade rolls Sunday at 1 p.m. The two were named as the Krewe’s royalty for Mardi Gras 2018, but inclement weather led to safety concerns and, for the first time ever, the parade’s cancellation. So, technically speaking, the couple has reigned for more than a year.
“When we found out last year, it was exciting and really an honor,” Mary Ann said. “To be asked to be king and queen and represent our parish, our town … it’s probably even more exciting now, because we’ve had one more year to think about it.”
The Cortez couple have owned and operated Wagon Wheel Arts & Crafts for 40 years in Des Allemands.
Michael, born and raised in Des Allemands, actually drove the truck that pulled the first-ever queen’s float at the Krewe of Des Allemands parade more than 50 years ago.
“It sure is a proud moment,” he said. “My daughter and grandkids are enjoying it as much as I am. It makes them feel good to know we worked our way to being king and queen.”
He said the news came as a big surprise, and an almost overwhelming one at that.
“I never dreamed of being king and queen. It really made me feel like somebody again,” Michael said.
They’ll be riding on a white and gold float with a royalty theme that they decorated. Though it’s an exciting time, Mary Ann noted this isn’t the first time they’ve taken part in the festivities on a float.
“My daughter had a float in the parade for a few years, so we’ve been kind of involved with it before,” she said. “The people are so nice. You’re able to throw the children things and see the smiles on their faces, and it’s just a great feeling.”
They will have their grandchildren riding with them—and perhaps their great granddaughter. A silver lining of the event skipping a year is that the infant is old enough to ride now at a year and a half of age.
“It’s probably even more exciting now, because we’ve had one more year to think about it.” – Mary Ann Cortez
“It must have been meant to be,” said Mary Ann, who has lived in Des Allemands since wedding Michael 53 years ago.
Of course, part of the festivities includes the Krewe’s annual ball, an event the Cortez family has now experienced twice in their royal roles.
“I danced more at both of them than I have in my entire life,” Michael said.
For someone who has been around since the very first rolling of the parade, he said it’s a truly special feeling to be in this position, particularly so because it comes with family and represents a celebration of the entire community.
“It’s a big time party,” he said. “That’s the most people we ever get in Des Allemands. It’s a wonderful family event … the ball was a fantastic time and it was really great to see everyone turn out to celebrate with us.”
Getting to know the King and Queen
- Michael and Mary Ann Cortez share the distinction of “longest reigning king and queen” in Krewe of Des Allemands history, thanks to last year’s rainout.
- Michael drove the truck that pulled the parade’s first-ever Queen’s float.
- The Cortez’s have been married for more than 50 years and they’ve owned and operate Wagon Wheel Arts and Crafts in Des Allemands for the past 40 years.