The Krewe of Charleston hosted their annual Mardi Gras Ball Saturday night at the Marriott on Lockwood Boulevard. Hundreds of guests arrived in a mix of black-tie finery and avant-garde frocks, many wearing masks and glitter-covered faces. For the first two hours of the ball, guests noshed on the buffet of Cajun-tinged chicken tenders, hushpuppies, and rice étouffée. They guzzled champagne and cocktails until the main event.

At 8 p.m., a Mardi Gras ceremony of sorts began. A choir sang the National Anthem and recited the Pledge of Allegiance before the guests took their seats in the hotel ballroom and watched the Krewe of Charleston’s introductions. Krewe members dressed as characters like Marie Antoinette, Cruella de Vil, and a court jester, complete with regal feathered headdresses, sequined suits, and long embroidered dress trains.

The Mardi Gras Ball was most definitely a party for a cause — proceeds benefited the MUSC Children’s Hospital, and some of the kids battling cancer were in attendance. But Mardi Gras is also about having fun, and Donnie Bulliard, founder of the Krewe of Charleston, declared, “It’s time for Charleston to have a Mardi Gras parade!”, cueing an explosion of silver streamers.

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters, who traveled all the way from Louisiana for the event, kicked off a night of wild dancing. At one point, a fire alarm went off — it was quickly dismissed as safe, but a few hotel guests and costumed partygoers evacuated the building. Most revelers, however, stayed in the ballroom and continued to dance as if no flames could stop them.

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