It's not even Halloween yet, and football season is just hitting its mid-season stride, but it's never too early to start thinking about Mardi Gras. Just ask Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany, who's taking his turn as the 2010 chairman of the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians — also known as Washington Mardi Gras. The event typically draws more than 3,000 people, of which 90 percent travel from Louisiana to party on the Hill. Many organizations and companies dedicate portions of their marketing or outreach budgets to send representatives to the bash, considered one of the hottest D.C. networking events around. At a minimum, it provides a classic example of how lawmakers and lobbyists dodge pesky gift rules (the event enjoys an exception from the ethics code).
And, of course, what would Mardi Gras be without a king and queen? Last week, Boustany announced that William H. Fenstermaker will serve as king and Dayna Elizabeth Haynie will serve as queen. Both are from Lafayette. Fenstermaker, known statewide for his work on good government boards like Blueprint Louisiana, is also CEO of C. H. Fenstermaker and Associates and serves as corporate chair of IberiaBank. Haynie, the daughter of Baton Rouge-based lobbyist Randy Haynie, is a junior earning a double major in psychology and sculpture at LSU. Along with her brother Ryan Haynie, she co-chairs the Haynie Family Foundation, which focuses on charitable giving to education, health care, art and cultural community needs. Mardi Gras has been celebrated in D.C. since 1943, when displaced Louisianians living in the nation's capital decided to bring the celebration of Mardi Gras to their new home. In 1957, The Mystick Krewe of Louisianians was officially formed and has been sponsoring the celebration of Washington Mardi Gras since. — Alford