Twelfth Night, the traditional Feast of the Epiphany, marks the beginning of the Carnival season. For many years New Orleans has celebrated this occasion by bringing together city officials, Carnival krewe leaders, and representatives of the tourism and hospitality industry to mark the beginning of this unique New Orleans celebration.
Rex played a major role in the program, with Rex Official John Charbonnet reporting on the financial impact of Mardi Gras. The most recent study indicated that every dollar the city spends on Mardi Gras returns $8.50 in financial benefit to the city.
Rex Official Christy Brown expressed appreciation for the work the city does to assure a safe and successful celebration, and presented Mayor Landrieu with a framed "edict" announcing the intention of the King of Carnival "to visit his Capital City of New Orleans" on February 21st, 2012. Rex invites all "to gather from far and near, to join in the many celebrations and processions which will shortly unfold under the joyful Carnival banner."
Mr. Brown also described the growth in community investment by the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, which was founded by Rex members following Hurricane Katrina. Contributions by Rex members have funded grants totaling over $1.2 million over the past four years. Foundation giving has been focused on the reform and renewal of New Orleans Public Schools through grants to charter schools and supporting organizations. Visit the Pro Bono Publico foundation website for more information.
During the program the 2012 Rex Proclamation was unveiled. The work of Rex float design artist Manuel Ponce depicts the Butterfly King, an image first created for the invitation to the 1881 Rex ball. The metamorphosis of the butterfly, and its brief and colorful life, is a fitting metaphor for Carnival itself, and butterflies have often found a place in designs for Rex parades.
In recent years the School of Design has announced its parade theme on Twelfth Night and posted information about it in the Education Area of its website. The "Rex in the Classroom" program has been very popular, and this year's theme, "Lore of the Ancient Americas," should provide many opportunities for classroom explorations.