During last year's Mistick Krewe of Okeanos Mardi Gras parade Lilly Bell, Bailey Jenkins and Aubrey Jenkins stand along the parade route in their matching Mardi Gras outfits to catch candy and goodies. Daily Record file photo by Denise Cathey
San Marcos celebrates Carnival
San Marcos’ original Carnival Krewe – The Mistick Krewe of Okeanos — is once again bringing the spirit and traditions of Carnival to San Marcos, with its 7th annual Okeanos Parade on Saturday, March 2 starting at noon.
This year’s Mardi Gras parade coincides with Texas Independence Day, so the Okeanos Krewe will be celebrating what makes Texas great, namely the friendliness of the state.
The name “Texas” originates from a Native American (Caddo) word “teyshas” meaning friends or allies. Texas' state motto is very simple – “Friendship.” The Okeanos Krewe believe that the best way to create and cement a common ground between all types of people and organizations, is through fostering and developing friendships and community.
The Mistick Krewe of Okeanos was created eight years ago by a mixed group of native Texans and transplanted Louisianans. The Krewe is named after the Greek deity of rivers and oceans, Okeanos. What a better name for the oldest and only Krewe of San Marcos than one that represents what San Marcos is known for; the pure spring-fed river. The San Amrcos River is especially exemplary because it has fostered community along its banks for more than 10,000 years and is one of the city’s most important assets.
The Mardi Gras parade route for 2019. Submitted photo
This year's parade will have all the color, fun and spirit of the first six parades plus more participant and an expanded parade route. The 7th annual route will start and end at the VFW Hall on Hopkins Street, and will run through two historic neighborhoods (Belvin Street and San Antonio Street).
The public is invited to attend the parade, which is expected to last approximately 45 minute to 1 hour. Belvin and San Antonio streets will be blocked off from through traffic and parking. Traffic will be stopped periodically on Hopkins Street at Scott Street to allow the parade to cross over to San Antonio Street.
King of Carnival
Ellie and Harry Stewart’s home on San Antonio Street has no shortage of Mardi Gras memories. But this year will provide no short supply of them, because King Harry the VIII will ride atop the same float graced by his wife Ellie as Queen of Okeanos the 4th in 2015. Civic activity is an all-important factor in selecting the king and queen, but Harry Stewart has also served the country as an Air Force pilot for 20 years. Much of his time was spent flying in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for saving four F-5 aircraft in an extremely critical refueling operation over Vietnam. Stewart retired from the Air Force in 1971 and moved with his wife, Ellie, and five children to San Marcos. He began a second career with the Gary Job Corps as CIS manager.
He became involved with the San Marcos community in many areas. He served as president and treasurer of the San Marcos Evening Lions Club. He also served as chairman of the Christmas tree fundraiser for years, and became known as the, “Christmas tree man” of San Marcos. After retiring from the Gary Job Corps, Stewart transferred his membership to the San Marcos Noon Lions Club. He has been a member of the Lion’s Club for 48 years in total. “He was incredible for years”, former Okeanos Queen Kathy Morris said. “For years Harry literally moved his trailer onto the Lions Club Christmas tree lot on Hopkins Street.”
Stewart enjoyed making wooden toys and set up a little business known as “The Village Wood Smith.” He made all kinds of toys – airplanes, of course, but also trucks cars, cradles and different animals. He also made plush toys like armadillos and a duck that had rubber feet that were very popular. Another best seller were the reindeer he made for Christmas.
Harry and Ellie Stewart have been dedicated members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church since 1971, and Harry has served on the vestry for three different terms.
His favorite game is golf, and both he and Ellie still enjoy traveling. Married for almost 65 years, it is doubtful that Ellie need worry about losing her head to our beloved King Harry the VIII .
It is with great pride that the Mistick Krewe of Okeanos wishes this quiet leader a magical and magnificent reign as King of Carnival in San Marcos.
Queen of Carnival
San Marcos’ first Mardi Gras Krewe was named after the Greek deity of rivers, Okeanos, so it’s fitting that this year’s Queen of Okeanos has had a lifelong love for the beautiful clear rivers of Texas.
Cathy Dillon was raised in California but came to Houston in 1972 for graduate school in nursing. She stayed there for 15 years where she worked at the Methodist Hospital, and married her husband Mike Dillon. But the call of the Hill Country, where she had spent childhood summers on the Guadalupe River, was always strong. The couple spent most of their summer weekends canoeing the region’s many rivers, before deciding that the town of San Marcos felt like home. So in early 1984, they followed their love for rivers by moving here and opening the Crystal River Inn in a vintage Victorian house on Hopkins Street. The inn is now the oldest historic hotel in Texas that has been continually operated by original owners, and its 35th birthday is being celebrated this spring.
Over the years, the inn has hosted countless weddings and special events, brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to San Marcos, housed over 400 hurricane evacuees – some for months on end – and supported many charitable organizations.
Dillon has served on the Heritage Association’s Board of Directors in most positions including president, but since 1986 she has been especially devoted to the Heritage Home Tour. That in turn has led her to be an outspoken protector of the city's historic neighborhoods.
Perhaps her proudest single achievement is the Children’s Park Playscape, built in 1992 by 6,000 community volunteers. Dillon was a young mom at the time, and president of Junior Service League, when the group backed her “impossible” idea. Two years later, it became reality for generations of San Marcos children.
But Dillon's real heart is in tourism. Having served for years on the Convention and Visitors Bureau board, as well as president of the Texas Historic Hotel Association, Dillon is an industry leader. For this she has received accolades at state and local levels, including KVUE’s Jefferson Medal, the state historical commission’s Volunteer of the Year award, and the Rogers Family Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to San Marcos tourism.
This year, for her outstanding service to the community and to historic preservation, the Mistick Krewe of Okeanos is proud to crown her Queen of Carnival.