The weekend party celebrating Mardi Gras continued into Saturday night with a gala masquerade ball sponsored by members of the Waxahachie International Order of the Odd Fellows and its sister Rebekah Lodge. The annual party is the fifth for the groups.

The festivities began earlier in the day with zydeco music playing, booths with games and a gumbo contest in Singleton Plaza.

The annual parade was held downtown and the finale of the daylong celebration was Saturday night’s masquerade ball.

With offerings of beans and rice, other Cajun favorite dishes along with barbecue and traditional dishes, the evening started with a buffet line dinner that included the 13 entries from the gumbo eating contest held earlier in the day. 

The charity event was attended by more than 200 guests, according to Grand

Noble Oliver Peck, who said the ball is held each year for the Ellis County community to raise funds for the many charities sponsored by the Odd Fellows.

“This is the largest fundraising event we have all year,” Peck said, saying the goal was to raise from $5,000 to $6,000 after expenses, with many donations received from members of the community and local businesses.

“A large portion of the funds we raise comes from the live auction,” Peck said, noting that the group assists nonprofits like Hope Clinic and Waxahachie Care’s food pantry and sponsors scholarships to graduating Waxahachie seniors.

“We also provide other forms of support thoughout the community for families in need,” he said.

As the crowd began to gather, the band began playing a mixture of zydeco and rock and roll. Providing the music for the night’s entertainment was Zydeco Stingrays from Dallas. As the evening wore on and the dance floor started to fill, the sounds of the music added to the Mardi Gras theme.

An annual tradition to the ball was Horace Bratcher singing some of his favorites. The oldest lodge member, Bratcher, opened with “Kansas City” followed by “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

“For my last song, we’re going to slow up the tempo a bit,” said Bratcher, who was accompanied by the Stingrays as he closed with “Bill Bailey.”

Members of the Rebekah Lodge decorated the hall for the evening in traditional Mardi Gras style with lights and beads.

Looking over the ballroom and the festive decorations, Peck said, “The community has been really good to us and we are so thankful.”

Besides the dance and food, the combined lodges also put together a silent auction.

“The merchants and community really supported us making donations for the auction,” Peck said.

The annual Mardi Gras Ball in Waxahachie is held the Saturday before Fat Tuesday.

“We work with the Downtown Merchants Association to hold the annual event in conjunction with their parade and other Mardi Gras activities,” Peck said.