McNicholas students celebrate and prepare for 70th annual Mardi Gras Ball

The Mardi Gras dance is an experience unique to McNicholas High School. This tradition is one of the students’ favorites to celebrate. The event combines a ceremony to celebrate the students who embody the McNicholas value and then a dance. Along with the festivites, the Mardi Gras Banner Competition showcases the themes of Mardi Gras.  

Students compete to make the best-looking banner. The competition’s winner is chosen by the three art teachers, Mel Gaskins, Indigo Hudepohl, and Sarah Nestheide, based on which design is the strongest.  

The winner’s banner will be hung up outside of the gym. 

Mardi Gras banner entry in the art room ahead of the event.

The theme for the competition is fleur de lis which was chosen to remind people of the history behind the dance as the symbol of New Orleans. “The fleur de lis was chosen to reference the French heritage of Mardi Gras and the sisters of Saint Joseph,” says Hudepohl.  

Anyone can participate in the competition. The design must include the words “fleur de lis” and “Mardi Gras 2023”  and the color scheme of white, gold, silver, and purple using felt, paint, or embroidery. 

The origin of all the traditions started with The Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille who came to Cincinnati from New Orleans. The tradition of Mardi Gras is the starting celebration for Lent. In French, “Mardi” means Tuesday and “Gras” means fat which is the origin of the day before Lent. 

The sisters brought this celebration to the students of McNicholas in 1953. They started it as a reward for raffle sales but turned it into an event honoring students for their service to the community’s values. The traits students are recognized for are character, leadership, and service. 

The 2019 Mardi Gras banner is still displayed in the halls of the school.

Every year, an honor guard is chosen of four men and four women from the sophomore and junior class. There is also a senior court with twenty men and twenty women. The two seniors with the most votes are crowned queen and king. The winners are announced at the pageant at which time the queen changes into a white dress and the two students dance.   

The week heading into the dance students can dress up to themes that are made for them. This year’s themes were:   

Monday- off school  

All students were off school after the Super Bowl because of the money raised in the Rocket Raffle.  

Tuesday- Tie Dye 

The sophomore class had a leadership retreat day Tuesday and some students dressed up with the tie dye theme. Sophomores Heather Kraemer, Ally Iredale, and Madison Martinez all dressed up together for this day.  

Wednesday- Dress as a teacher 

English teacher, Angie Noble came to McNicholas dressed as Bill Losekamp. Noble’s sophomore daughter, Katie Noble dressed as Noble to show off her mother.  

Thursday- Jersey day  

Sophomores Alex Dalton, Nathan Bruns, Carson Schisler, Cannon Carmosino, and Ethan Feeney all participated in wearing a sports jersey for jersey day. Carmosino and Dalton both also participated in the 3v3 basketball game that was taking place during CREW.  

Friday- Mardi Gras Spirit day 

Juniors Amanda Zerhusen and Lauren Brown both had their green and purple going for Mardi Gras spirit day. Zerhusen had a little green for faith and Brown had purple for justice. 

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