Krewe De Columbi-Ya-Ya Kaptains Tom Hall and Kristian Niemi on parades, the blues and beheadings


With Mardi Gras Columbia a mere 2 days away, Kristian Niemi can barely contain his excitement.

“The parade! The bands! The food! The drunken shenanigans!” said Niemi. “Dress for the occasion—the crazier the better!”

Niemi, along with Tom Hall, Emile Defelice and Eric McClam, are the original “Kaptains” of the Krewe De Columbi-Ya-Ya, who organized Mardi Gras Columbia parades and festival the past two years. This will be the third annual Mardi Gras Columbia organized by the Krewe.

The first Mardi Gras Columbia, raised money for Wil-Moore Farms after a fire destroyed their barn. Organized in 3 weeks, the 2011 Mardi Gras Columbia managed to raise $2500. Last year’s Mardi Gras Columbia had an even bigger turnout, attracting over 4,000 people and raising money for the Animal Mission of the Midlands.

This year, the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya will again raise funds for the Animal Mission through a pet parade.

“Fortunately, no local farmers have had losses,” said Tom Hall. “Also, an animal parade is fun.”

“We're all animal lovers and we like the idea of people dressing their dogs up for the parade,” said Niemi. “Soni [Jim Sonefeld, president of Animal Mission] is a good friend and they needed another fund-raising avenue, so it was a natural fit.”

Registration for the pet parade, which costs $5, begins at 10 a.m. at City Roots. Pet owners walking in the pet parade are encouraged to dress up their pets in the best Mardi Gras attire. Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed pups.

The pet parade will be led by King Bud Ferillo and Danielle Howle, as well as Grand Marshall Larry Hembree, managing director of the Trustus Theater.

Hall said he is “looking forward to the coronation of the new King and Queen during the parade, which will be presided over by Drink Small. Born in Bishopville, S.C., “Blues Doctor” Drink Small has sung dirty blues and gospel music for nearly 6 decades. Drink Small will also perform live during the festival.

Last week, King Bud Ferillo jokingly called for Hall’s decapitation should he fail to deliver during his musical performance with the Plowboys. Hall responded to His Majesty’s threat:

“I cannot let down the King, so if I don’t kick ass, I deserve beheading. I hope my kids aren’t there then.”


Yippee-Ya-Ya! 2013 Mardi Gras Columbia parade and festival Saturday Feb. 9

Krewe de Columbia-ya-ya Poster by The Half and Half.


Dust off that jester’s hat and prepare to catch beads. Mardi Gras Columbia is back, hosted by the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya and featuring a parade, food and festivities Feb. 9 from noon to 10 p.m.

This will be the third annual Mardi Gras Columbia. The first Mardi Gras Columbia was organized in 2011 as a fundraiser for local Wil-Moore Farms, after a Feb. 2011 fire destroyed their barn.

Musician Tom Hall, along with others involved in Columbia’s local food community, formed the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya to raise money for Wil-Moore Farms. The 2011 Mardi Gras Columbia raised $2500, helping Wil-Moore Farms to pay for a new barn.

Proceeds for this year’s Mardi Gras Columbia will benefit The Animal Mission, which funds free spay and neuter programs throughout S.C.

The 2013 Mardi Gras Columbia will kick off with a parade from noon to 1:30 p.m., starting and ending at City Roots, 1005 Airport Boulevard. After the parade ends, the festival begins at City Roots, which will have live music performances and food, including Cajun, Creole and Charleston Lowcountry cuisine.

The Mardi Gras Columbia King and Queen this year are director and Travelstead Award winner Bud Ferillo and musician Danielle Howle, who will also perform live during the festival.

Other musicians and bands set to perform at Mardi Gras Columbia include Carey Hudson of Blue Mountain, The Captain Midnight Band and Andy Friedman.




Introducing His and Her Majesties

King Bud Ferillo and Queen Danielle Howle

“My goodness, I was born a peasant and am now a King,” said King Ferillo, excited to reign as monarch of Mardi Gras Columbia.

King Ferillo and Queen Howle ascended to the 2013 Mardi Gras Columbia throne, previously occupied in 2012 by King Emile DeFelice, founder of the All-Local Farmer’s Market, and Queen Debbie McDaniel, owner of Revente and Sid and Nancy.

King Ferillo’s first command as ruler of Mardi Gras Columbia was to declare his motto “Every Man is a King and Every Woman is a Queen.”

“I am asking Tom Hall, the minstrel maestro of Ya Ya Land, to amend and sing appropriate lyrics to Louisiana's populist Governor Huey Long's campaign song ‘Every Man A King’,” said His Majesty.

Hall’s band the Plowboys are set to play at this year’s festival, and the King has high expectations for Hall to put on a good show. His Majesty has decreed that, should Hall fail to meet expectations, then “off with his head,” although His Majesty, famous across Ya-Ya Land for a good sense of humor, will probably only put Hall in the stocks.

King Ferillo is pleased to sit on the throne alongside Her Majesty Queen Howle.

“I couldn't have a niftier partner than Queen Danielle of Awendaw,” said His Majesty. Queen Howle also expressed her excitement for the upcoming festival.

“I am feeling excellent Kung fu for Feb 9th,” said Her Majesty. “May the spirit of the Ya-Ya's great love and awakening powers prevail over all.”

-- By Giesela Lubecke