The Shadow Barons: A Brief History

The Shadow Barons began “legally” on June 10, 1999 (when we applied for our Federal tax ID number), although the wheels had actually been set in motion several weeks earlier in the dugout of a men’s softball game. The “new” Daphne Civic Center was under construction at the time, and several friends had decided it would be a great place for a Mardi Gras Ball…if only there were a Mardi Gras Group to throw one… and so we started The Shadow Barons.

Initially we did not organize as a Parading Society. We had a Summer Party and a Ball, several meetings during the year, but no parade. Our first parade was on February 9th, 2002.

From the very beginning we felt there were several things we had to do in order for our group to be successful: The Ball had to be great, with plenty of quality food, top-shelf liquor, places to sit, good bands, and room for guests to move around without crowding and long lines. The Summer Parties needed to be thrown for fun, not as a fundraiser, which is why our Summer Parties also have great food, top-shelf liquor, and live bands.

The members should have a dues structure that covers all of the major activities for the year without being nickeled and dimed to death every step of the way. Meetings should not be too frequent, and should be about 75% social and 25% business. The Board should be a “working” board directly responsible for the activities and events of the year, and should be accountable to the members.

With parading came a whole new level of involvement for our members. The challenge to host a parade with the same over-the-top excitement as we have become known for at our parties was accepted and met by our members. Most importantly, we have been able to master parading without sacrificing the quality of the Ball, the Summer Party, or the “feel” of the group as a whole.

During the 2008-2009 year we celebrated our 10th Anniversary, and also completed construction of a 12,000 square foot float barn and meeting facility. In 2009-2010 we built our first floats, and hope to have a full parade of our own floats without having to rent within 5 years. These next years should be exciting.

The Shadow Baron Our name … The Shadow Barons, was given to us by a local historian and director of the Museum of Mobile, Charles Torrey. Mr. Torrey lives in Baldwin County, and is known for his knowledge of the history both of this area, and of Mardi Gras.

We wanted a name tied to the area in some way. Mr. Torrey offered us “Louis Guillaume Laland Marie Hiacinthe Arnould: Baron de Feriet.” The Baron de Feriet was a career officer in Napolean’s military here in the New World from 1792 until 1815. He amassed wealth and fame for his courage in battle against foreign armies and private Pirates. Nearing retirement, he purchased most of what we now consider Montrose, then called the Ecor Rouge. There is more history on Baron de Feriet than I can include here. Mr. Torrey titled a research project he did on Baron de Feriet… “The Shadow Baron”, which we borrowed as our own.

Our crest is the actual coat of arms for a Baron in military service under Napolean’s rule. The additions we have made are the comedy/tragedy masks signifying Mardi Gras, and the chalice as a symbol of our Baroness. Each year we engrave a silver chalice and have it sent to the Baroness in a flower arrangement, and the Baron gets an engraved military sword presented during callouts, both of which are pictured on the crest.

Our emblem is a ghost-like skeletal figure representing The Baron De Feriet risen from the dead to again lead his soldiers into battle. The emblem, shrouded in a red hooded cloak, brandishes a sword and a cannon from the ship Tetis which he commanded during his military service. Our Emblem was introduced two years ago in honor of our 10th Anniversary, and he leads our parade each year henceforth.

Our costumes are a reflection of the military background of Baron de Feriet. They are adapted from the military dress uniforms of Napoleon’s officers during the late 1700’s.

Our colors … royal red, blue, and white, were the colors of Napoleon’s rule.

We intend to preserve these traditions as we move forward.