Opal_historyBY: OPAL MASTERS

In 1965 a group of people decided to start another GAY CARNIVAL KREWE. They choose AMON-RA (THE EGYPTIAN SUN GOD) as the KREWE’S name. GAY KREWES were started to poke fun at the STRAIGHT KREWES. It was also an opportunity to socialize with other GAY PEOPLE and dance the night away at KREWE FUNCTIONS and the CARNIVAL BALL. There were no dance bars in New Orleans because every time one opened it was quickly raided. You have to remember that back in those days things were very different from what they are today. In the first few years, the location of the BALL was kept a secret until the week of the event to hopefully keep it from being raided.

In the beginning, not all members of the KREWE were in costume for the BALL. Only 8 members were selected to be in the COURT. To be asked was quite an honor as was getting an invitation to the BALL. Only a select few of the GAY COMMUNITY received invitations and if you were fortunate enough to be given an invitation, you would never think of not attending.

After our 2ND CARNIVAL BALL we got the bright idea to hold an ANNUAL MISS AMERICA PAGEANT. Several years later we decided to add a MR AMERICA category. All good things must come to an end and after 45 years, in 2012 we stopped holding this event.

As our membership grew, we outgrew the small venues the KREWE had been using and in 1975 AMON-RA was the first GAY KREWE to use the Front Auditorium in St. Bernard Parish. What a thrill it was to have the honor of being chosen as QUEEN AMON-RA X and be the first official QUEEN to walk out on the stage of the St. Bernard Auditorium.

In the 70’S and early 80’S THE GAY KREWES were at their peak. Large memberships and very lavish MARDI GRAS BALLS were held. As many as 14 GAY KREWES existed. Our straight friends all wanted invitations and started attending. At the present time there are only 6 GAY CARNIVAL KREWES in New Orleans. Unfortunately, AIDS came on the scene and we lost many of our friends and fellow members. We continued to hold the BALLS and some functions in St. Bernard but the Audiences got smaller.

In August 2005, along came KATRINA and our world as we knew it changed. AMON-RA was one of the few KREWES to hold a CARNIVAL BALL for MARDI GRAS 2006. Tonight, we are celebrating our 50th year of continually celebrating MARDI GRAS with a CARNIVAL BALL.

The KREWE has come a long way from the days of hiding our identity and our existence to being able to hold events at such places as THE ENGLISH TURN COUNTRY CLUB AND HARRAH’S NEW ORLEANS. I am the only original charter member still in the KREWE and I have seen it all and am proud to still be an active member of the KREWE and for the second time, was chosen as our QUEEN AMON-RA 43RD.

The membership of AMON-RA has had another wonderful year and tonight we present our 51TH CARNIVAL BALL. We have had several functions during this year and we would like to thank all of you for your support. The profit, from these functions, is what makes it possible for us to have a carnival ball each year. The KREWE OF AMON-RA would also like to thank all of our SPONSORS for their help and generosity again this year.