Continuing a longstanding tradition, Rex volunteers welcomed more than 1300 students from dozens of schools to visit the Rex Den. Each student got a closeup preview of the 2016 Rex Parade, “Royal Gardens•Horti Regis," as well as a chance to visit the rooms where Rex, the King of Carnival, and his Captain and Lieutenants prepare to lead the parade from the den and onto the parade route on Mardi Gras.
Those rooms also contain historic displays, old costumes, crowns and scepters and other artifacts telling the stories of Carnival in New Orleans and the Rex Organization.
Students ranged in age from pre-Kindergarten through high school. Many used the visit as a starting point for imaginative projects ranging from float design to history, archeology and mythology.
The School of Design also hosted a workshop at the den for teachers conducted by KidSmart. Teachers developed lesson plans to bring the creative process of making beautiful floats into their classrooms, helping their students to develop their own creative talents and skills.
McGehee pre-Kindergarten students, for example, were inspired to create their own colorful float designs (see examples with this story). Another student suggested that, to lead such a beautiful parade, the Rex Captain should not ride a horse, but rather “he should ride a unicorn–it's more beautiful."
Visits were scheduled over the three weeks before Mardi Gras, and students came from private, parochial and public charter schools. This year's young visitors set a new record both for numbers and enthusiasm.