Babylon crowns Tulane junior Queen of Krewe

Miriam Lobrano is pictured above as a maid of Babylon during her junior year.

Miriam Lobrano is pictured above as a maid of Babylon during her junior year.

Brandi Doyal, Print News Editor

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Though many young girls aspire to be royalty, few women have the opportunity to ascend the throne. During the Carnival season, however, some Tulane women have the chance to live out a childhood fantasy of being crowned queen.

Tulane junior Miriam Lobrano is serving as the Queen of Babylon this year. Lobrano’s family became involved with the Krewe of Babylon through her mother, who graduated from Newcomb College in 1983. Her father has participated in the parade since 2003. Lobrano was a lady-in-waiting in 2004 and a maid in her junior year of high school.

Lobrano knew she was going to be the 2015 Queen of Babylon since 2008. 

“My mother, Joy Lobrano, was first introduced to Babylon in 2003 by a close family friend,” Lobrano said. “[Members of] the Krewe are all good friends.”

Celebrating Mardi Gras is important to the Tulane community and adds a unique appeal to attending college in New Orleans, Lobrano said.

“[Mardi Gras tradition] bonds us together as a community because it is a very unique event that only happens once a year in the greatest city in the world,” Lobrano said. “It is a special experience that we can share along with our peers.”

New Orleans’ Mardi Gras started as a celebration during the days between Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, and the beginning of the Lent season. In the late 1700s, pre-Lenten balls were held during this season.

During these balls, the Mardi Gras royalty tradition was created, often consisting of debutantes and elite members of society within New Orleans. These mock-royals would come to reign over Krewes and continued to be a part of the Mardi Gras tradition when it transformed to include parades almost a century later in 1837.

More than 125 private balls are held each year during the Mardi Gras season. Lobrano said she enjoys being part of Babylon, especially because the parade closely follows Mardi Gras traditions.

“I love the history of Babylon, and it is what makes the Krewe unique,” Lobrano said. “We pretty much do things like they did [in the beginning]. [Being part of the Krewe] makes me feel very close to the traditions of Mardi Gras.”

Babylon celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. It is known as one of the most historic and unique parades in the Mardi Gras season. The king’s identity is kept a secret, known only as Sargon. Mules pull his float, a throwback to the pre-’50s parades when mules pulled all floats.

The exact title of the parade theme is always kept a secret until the parade. Throughout the years, the parade has featured signature floats, such as “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” and the “Gates of Ishtar.”

As a queen, Lobrano will not ride in the all-male Krewe. Nonetheless, she said she enjoys being part of Babylon, where the women are truly treated like royalty.

“During the ball, the men stand in the back while the women sit in the front wearing long gloves,” Lobrano said. “There is a queens’ luncheon where all members of the court and past queens meet. The court also receives crowns and jewels to wear at the ball later that week.”

The Babylon ball and parade will take place on Thursday. The ball consists of rehearsals, special viewing stands for the queen and court to watch the parade, the royal tableau where the king, queen and court are presented to society and a special midnight dinner with a live band and desserts.

Lobrano said the only drawback of being part of the tradition is that school does not stop during Mardi Gras.

“It starts to get very busy during the Mardi Gras season, and I still have to keep up with school,” Lobrano said.

Lobrano’s advice to any student who would love to become more involved in the Mardi Gras season is to ask people they know in New Orleans about the Krewes and how they got involved.

“Asking your friends from [New Orleans] is a great way to get involved,” Lobrano said. “Some of the older Krewes are very strict about admission, but the newer ones are much more open to new members.”

People come from all over the world to experience New Orleans’ unique Mardi Gras festivities. Lobrano said Mardi Gras is not limited to those from New Orleans or the South and that everyone can enjoy and appreciate what the season has to offer.

“I have introduced my non-local friends to some of the traditions of Mardi Gras beyond the parades on St. Charles Avenue,” Lobrano said. “Their parents also come to town and experience the fun. Everyone comes to know and understand what Mardi Gras is truly about.”