Gulf Coast Carnival Association royalty mark return of Mardi Gras after pandemic cancellations

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The 2022 Gulf Coast Carnival Association is leading Mardi Gras back into Fat Tuesday after a year away due to the pandemic.

For Bobby Knesal and Madison Warren, serving as King D’Iberville and Queen Ixolib 2022 means more than just royalty. They represent Carnival’s grand comeback after last year’s COVID-19 hiatus.

“Mardi Gras is a release for everybody, for those who’ve been through these epidemics and pandemics and tragedies of hurricanes or losing family members, and it’s a great relief and release of energy people build up through the events,” said Knesal, a Gulfport native.

He said the extended prep time leading up to this year gave him and his royal dukes a chance to build some esprit de corps as they get ready to let the good times roll.

“Our dukes and I have had a great time this extra year. We’ve gotten to bond and know each other. I didn’t know a few of them at all, and a couple not at all, and we’ve really become great friends and established everlasting bonds. We’ve got a great group of guys and they’re gonna show you how much fun Mardi Gras can be,” Knesal added.

Queen Ixolib 2022 Madison Warren understands the fun and fantasy that comes with being Mardi Gras royalty. The Gulfport native said she got hooked on the pageantry of carnival when her dad was a duke back in 2011.

“I remember my first ball ever when he was a duke, I was in middle school, I had my first ever formal dress, and I would watch all the maids and queens come out and the whole court, and I just knew that was something I could not wait to do,” Warren said. “It was something that I always wanted to do, and I’ve always looked forward to possibly being able to do it. But the fact that it’s here, and I remember having those thoughts of being at that ball, it’s been very awesome.”

In fact, it’s been a pretty awesome two years for Warren. She served as a maid to Queen Ixolib in 2020.

“That was an awesome time and I’ve got my court now and get to do it twice in a row,” Warren added.

They reign over Mardi Gras, and they’ll roll through the streets of Biloxi this Fat Tuesday beginning at 1 p.m.

This year’s GCCA theme is “Dancing Around the World.”

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Bill Snyder

Bill Snyder

A familiar face has returned to WLOX as Bill Snyder rejoins the team as one of our Multi-Media Journalists.