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Mardi Gras Queen

Mardi Gras Queen

Lucie Wade

    Blaring trumpets announced Pensacola’s 2020 Mardi Gras Coronation Ball.  Members of the royal court marched in, stopping six feet in front of the stage. The crowd went wild when King Penzakola appeared, bowing and waving to his subjects. He ascended the steps to the royal throne and faced the audience. Next to his throne a gilded table held a crown and scepter emblazoned with rubies and sapphires to be presented to the queen at her coronation.


Trumpets blared again as a spotlight focused on curtains parting at the back of the stage. A silver-masked, statuesque woman in a spectacular red sequined gown appeared. Her ruby and sapphire earrings dangling below ebony tresses matched the jeweled crown and scepter. The orchestra struck up “Hail to the Queen” while this shining vision slowly paraded across the stage to kneel at the foot of King Penzakola’s throne.


    The king removed her mask, lifted the bejeweled crown, and gently placed it on her head.  Once it was firmly in place, he carefully handed her the jewel-spiked scepter, and helped the newly crowned queen to her feet. The ear-splitting yells faded as the king raised his hands demanding silence.


    “Meet Miss Corona Virus our 2020 Mardi Gras Queen,” he shouted. “She arrived at Pensacola International Airport this morning after a trip around the world. She’s visited China, South Korea, Russia, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, leaving her essence wherever she’s visited.  Let’s give her a royal welcome.”
    Queen Corona bowed and waved her scepter high, sprinkling ruby-red and sapphire-blue sparkles over the crowd below.


    King Penzakola took Queen Corona’s hand and escorted her down to the dance floor. The orchestra began to play as the royal couple stepped onto the floor, and the princes and princesses joined them for the first dance. When it ended, the king and queen led the court through the ballroom entrance where royal floats awaited.  Once they had taken their places, the Mardi Gras Grand Parade officially got underway.


    The parade stopped at the intersection of Palafox and Garden Streets in front of bleachers where city officials and honored guests burst into applause. Mayor Grover climbed onto the royal float, and with a deep bow to Queen Corona, presented her with an oversized golden key to the city.  “Queen Corona, our city is yours now. May your reign bring prosperity to our fair town.”


    Queen Corona put down her scepter and held the key up high as the crowd cheered. With the key in one hand and the microphone in the other, Queen Corona addressed the crowd:

 
        I’m the queen of Pensacola assuming my rule
        You’ll find that I am not your fool.
        I’m giving you something you may never have seen
        It’s commonly known as a quarantine.
        Don’t leave your house unless it’s necessary
        To buy food at the store or pills at the apothecary.
        You’re to wear a mask whenever you’re out
        For this order do not have a doubt
        Because if you decide to disobey
         It’s with your life that you will pay.

    With an evil smile, Queen Corona waved her scepter toward the Pensacola Civic Band, signaling them to continue the parade.  


    To the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the royal float glided past throngs of revelers lining South Palafox Street. Smiling broadly, the queen waved her scepter high, spraying ruby-red and sapphire-blue glitter throughout the city. At midnight the parade ended at De Luna Landing overlooking moonlit Pensacola Bay. Queen Corona stepped down from the royal float, tripped on the hem of her dress, and stumbled to the ground. As she fell, the crown flew from her head into the air, and landed around the neck of an airborne pelican. The bejeweled bird was last seen flying east over the Pensacola Bay Bridge. When Queen Corona reached up for her crown, she let go of her scepter, only to watch it fall over the landing and into the Bay where it has never been found.


    The 2020 Mardi Gras Grand Parade ended that night, but the spirit of Queen Corona Virus lingers on. On nights when Pensacola Bay’s moonlit water is tinted ruby-red and sapphire-blue, could this be the reflection of Queen Corona’s bejeweled crown and scepter? And when the moon is full, the cloud-like figure of a tall graceful woman can be seen hovering over Pensacola Bay. Could this be Queen Corona searching for her bejeweled crown and scepter?

Life in the Time of Corona

Within weeks after March 11, 2020 World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, West Florida Literary Federation offered its writers a catharsis. By April, regional writers were submitting words and images to preserve this time in history. The ongoing project began with Phase I, a special edition of The Legend published in May. It featured more than thirty juried submissions. Life in the Time of Corona continues with Phase II, updated as submissions are accepted. Here are the voices of health care workers, poets, essayists, historians, and the images of artists and photographers, documenting this time in Northwest Florida's history. The ongoing project ends with the advent of a vaccine or declaration by the World Health Organization.

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