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Rex Parade

The Rex Parade

The Rex Procession has been the highlight of Mardi Gras day since the Rex Organization was formed and first paraded in 1872. While there had been celebrations in many forms on Mardi Gras before that time, the Rex Parade gave a brilliant daytime focus to the festivities, and provided a perfect opportunity for Rex, King of Carnival, to greet his city and his subjects. The Rex Procession today is true to the long tradition of rich themes, elegant design, and floats built with traditional materials and designs. Most of Rex's floats are built on old wooden wagons with wood-spoked wheels. In recent years the theme and design of the parade have been suggested in advance of the parade with the publication of Parade Bulletins, designed to give the public a glimpse of what will roll from the Rex Den on Mardi Gras day.

Parade Theme

Themes for the Rex Parade historically have drawn inspiration from the worlds of mythology, art, literature, and history, drawing on the rich images of ancient cultures and faraway lands. The theme of the 2015 Rex Procession, "Wars That Shaped Early America," is developed by presenting in sequence conflicts which cumulatively helped define, establish and preserve our nation. Beginning more than a century before the War of Independence, and culminating in the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans, this is the story of a nation forged in battle.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

The Captain

The Rex Procession is led by the Captain of the Rex Organization, known publicly only by the title "Bathurst." Masked and astride his white mount, he acknowledges the crowd as he leads the parade from the den, down St. Charles Avenue, and into and through the city's business district. The Captain bears year-round responsibility for all of the affairs of the Realm of the King of Carnival.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

The Lieutenants

Placed at intervals throughout the parade are His Majesty's lieutenants. They ride in groups of three, wearing gold-trimmed velvet uniforms of purple, green, and gold, the royal colors. The Lieutenants assist the Captain in overseeing the preparations for the Rex parade and ball.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

Rex Greets his Subjects

From atop his float, Rex greets his subjects on Mardi Gras day. At Gallier Hall he will exchange greetings with the city's leaders, and at the official reviewing stand at the Hotel Intercontinental he will pause to toast the Queen of Carnival and the Rex Court. Rex 2010 was Hunter Pierson, a New Orleans businessman and civic leader.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

Rex's Pages

Rex's pages accompany him on his ride through the city. These young men will attend the King of Carnival throughout the day. Their duties continue into the evening as Rex and his Queen preside over the glittering Rex Ball.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

Marching Bands

The Rex Parade always includes an array of excellent bands, invited by His Majesty, Rex, to join his Procession. These bands are drawn from the best high school, college, and military bands locally and from far away. They add a colorful musical dimension to Mardi Gras Day. Prizes are awarded for the best bands, and each band member receives a specially designed medal.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

The Boeuf Gras

The Rex parade dedicates a permanent float to an enduring symbol of Mardi Gras, the Boeuf Gras. Riders on this float dress as masked cooks, another symbol of the feasting on "Fat Tuesday" before the austerity of Lent. Other permanent floats include the Royal Barge, His Majesty's Bandwagon, and the Royal Calliope.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

Theme Floats

Other floats help develop and illustrate the parade theme. This float, title "Dragon's Breath" was part of the "Fables of Fire and Flame" parade in 2010.

Photo Credit: Kate Elkins

Masked Riders

Maskers on each float dress in elaborate costumes designed to add to the colorful effect of the float's design and decoration. Riders throw cups, beads, doubloons, and other trinkets to the crowd. Rex originated one of the most popular Mardi Gras "throws," the metal doubloon. The gold doubloon carries the image of Rex on one side and a depiction of the parade theme on the other.