This is why New Orleans is the premier Mardi Gras site. No other area can produce the excitement that Rex brings. Rex is the King of Carnival, and can boast that no other community has a Mardi Gras king with as much legitimacy. New Orleans the premier site? Definitely. No one takes a flight to party in Seattle, Mobile or Biloxi, Mississippi. The city has more parades than any other community, and the money spent by krewe members is more than the totals of all other claimants combined.
In 1872, Carnival (Mardi Gras) started out as a celebration not worthy of a visit from the Grand Duke Alexis of the Russian Empire. Despite the Twelfth Night Revelers and Comus, nothing else was present to equal the special occasion of the visit of Russian royalty. Thus, the formation of the Rex Association.
The first thing the group of prominent citizens who made up Rex did was erect a reviewing stand in front of City Hall. A huge stand seating several thousands was also built in Lafayette Square.
The first Rex pageant, with Rex in glittering jewels, rode a horse and was followed by mounted police. Artillery and a marshall also followed. Hundreds of maskers heralded a snow-white Boeuf Gras with horns and garlands of posies. Carriages were also there, filled with maskers, vans, and promiscuous vehicles.
The Grand Duke arrived on February 11th, and were greeted by the mayor when his party exited the ship the next day. Throughout the city, most businesses were decorated with banners and flags. Purple, gold and green, the Rex colors, were all over as well as the official Rex flag. Purple represented royalty. Gold, purity. Green, love, or friendship. The official stones were: Amethyst representing sincerity. Topaz, loyalty. Emerald representing love.
The Grand Duke and his entourage arrived late. An hour after the parade began. A formal welcome was extended by city officials of the State and City. The Duke, himself, declined a seat of honor under a crimson canopy. Lewis J. Salomon, was crowned the first king of carnival. No queen or reception was present. The krewe later attended the Comus Ball.
The song, "If Ever I Cease to Love," was strained out and would later become the official song of Mardi Gras.
Al the information about Rex was not immediately released. It was only after several years that all these details came out. The St. Charles Hotel was the scene for the formation of Rex. Several prominent New Orleanians attended included, E.C. Hancock, editor of the New Orleans Times. Hancock wrote several articles announcing that His Majesty, Rex, was going to pay his first official visit to the city and commanded the people greet him with honor. Not enough time was present to build floats, and the problem of finding adequate costumes for Rex and his Dukes was serious. Rex was later paraded backstage of a local theatre, The Varieties Theatre, and presented to a tragedian. Lawrence Barrett, tragedian and actor, willingly lent his Richard III costume to the carnival monarch. A crown, sceptor and velvet cloak with ermine trim were located and also lent to him. There were also enough robes for the dukes, who were mounted escorts to Rex. Rex rode a bay horse. Theme: Triumphal Entry
In 1873, the reception and ball were opened up to the public at the Carnival Palace. People from all walks of life attended. Rex marched around the hall and stopped in front of a most worthy lady to rule with him. Walker Fearn was chosen queen that year. She had decided to attend at the spur of the moment.
Membership in the Rex Association was increased from $40 to $100 in 1873. The organization was chartered as the "School of Design," and was authorized to advance art, entertain, amuse and instruct the people. Regalia for the second celebration came from Paris and his appearance in his Occidental Capitol was set. E. B. Wheelock was the monarch and was mounted on a steed. He was accompanied by nobles of the realm and numerous military troops. The Boeuf Gras was not white this year, but red. There was also six divisions of maskers in Egyptian costumes. Vans, wagons, carts and other types of vehicles followed. Ten thousand maskers marched. Annual Mardi Gras celebrations were now fully entrenched. Rex rode a charger. Theme: Egyptian
Royal edicts announced the approaching Rex celebration in 1874, and on the Monday before Mardi Gras, Rex landed at the foot of Canal Street after arriving by steamer. W. S. Pike was Rex. He was dressed in chain armor and cast as Tiola, conqueror of Rome. He rode atop a charger. He proclaimed Margaret Maginnis his Queen, who was jut eighteen years old. After the parade, Rex made several stops, including the Comus festivities. Rex adorned shining armor while mounted and was surrounded by the Shah of Persia. Theme: Persian
The next year saw violent clashes on Canal Street on September 14th, and the celebration was cancelled. 1875's celebration was also cancelled due to other subsequent events.
In 1876, the procession resembled many of the earlier ones, although it was longer. The King was Albert Baldwin and Cora A. Townsend was the Queen. The Poet Laureate was Ashley Townsend, the Queen's mother. Her job consisted of recording the travels of Rex and his plans to return to his Capital of Frivolity. For the first time, the court included three maids. Rex rode in a royal car drawn by six white steeds. Theme: Persian and Egyptian
The 1877 parade consisted of twenty-five floats followed by knightly maskers. Advertising vans and promiscuous maskers were precluded from participating by proclamation. It rained hard causing the papier-mache decorations to get soaked. Charles T. Howard was the monarch and Caro Labatt was the queen. Twenty-five floats each depicting wars throughout the ages. Rex was on a rolling throne. Theme: Military Progress of the World
1878 saw James I. Day reign as Rex and Jessie May, his Queen. Fifteen thousand invitations were issued and informed that gentlemen would not be admitted without full evening attire nor would ladies be admitted with bonnets. Three-thousand showed up, probably as a result of the new dress regulations. Rex was drawn by a chariot of white horses. Twenty-nine floats. Theme: The God Modernized
"Robert E. Lee" day preceded the Mardi Gras celebration in 1879. Rex was disguised and escorted by well drilled troops of several military units. The theme was The History of the World, a comic presentation. Rex was William Mehle and Courtney Leathers was the Queen.
The claim of the 1880 pageant was that New Orleans would have no equal in Mardi Gras. Ambrose A. Maginnis was Rex and Alice Rathbone,the Queen. The first float was represented by the Phunny Phorty Phellows. A glittering parade with Rex in a chariot of gold and silver drawn by eight white horses. The Boeuf Gras was also present.
In 1881, Rex was saluted by the U.S. Men of War and other watercraft. H. C. Stringfellow from Shreveport was king and Coral Slocomb was queen. Rex's identity was not published at the time. All the characters of the Thousand and One Nights were represented with a theme of Arabian Nights Tales.
The King of France was the character for the 1882 Rex. Rex arrived in Algiers by train. His identity was not published and the rumor was that the Mayor, Joseph Shakespeare ruled. The queen was Frances Isabel Morris. No large gathering greeted the royal party who were delayed. They left the celebration early to attend the Comus ball. These visits have continued and, the official meeting of the Courts just before midnight have ended Mardi Gras since. Unique floats symbolized sports and pastimes. Theme: The Pursuit of Pleasure
In 1883, Rex was accompanied, upon his arrival, by the Orioles, who had displayed New Orleans floats in Baltimore in earlier years. Jules Aldige was Rex and Susie Richardson was Queen. Momus replaced Comus this year at the Mardi Gras night celebration and were accompanied by Lord and Lady Baltimore. Rex was in a golden chariot. Theme: Atlantis: The Antediluvian World
The Order of Cincinnatus paid homage to Rex in 1884 in return for their participation in Rex. John Chaffe and Annie Howard reigned. Twenty thousand guests received the monarchy at the Royal Throne. Five Daughters of the Confederacy were honored. Rex was in a canopied car. Theme: The Semitic Races
During the next three years, Rex arrived by train. In 1885, he led a column of militia and boarded a royal steamer later. Momus again appeared at the closing ceremonies as Comus was not active. In fact, Momus would repeat the appearance for the next four years. J. H. Maury was Rex and Celeste Stauffer was Queen. Theme: Ivanhoe
In 1886, Proteus assumed the regal prerogative on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras day). Rex was Burris D. Wood and Lena Jackson was Queen. Jackson toasted Proteus, the marine deity. Rex portrayed the restorer of the Roman Empire and rode between groups of historic floats. Early Rome and later world events. Theme: The Triumph of Aurelian
The 1887 saw Rex have a procession only followed by a large social gathering. George Soule was Rex and Louise Braughn, Queen. Theme: Music and Drama - Odds and Ends - Washington
The 1888 Monday events never materialized and disappointed many. Harry Howard was Rex and Geneviere Cottreaux was Queen in the pageant. Theme: The Realm of Flowers
The Monday celebration resumed in 1889 with a thrilling water display. John G. Schriever was Rex and Cora Richardson was Queen. Precious metals and gems formed the theme of: The Treasures of the Earth
In 1890, Proteus again appeared on Mardi Gras night. While Comus had always had the option, a controversy erupted. Proteus won. Sylvester P. Walmsley was Rex and Nita Shakespeare, Queen. Momus was there. After favors were exchanged, Rex and his group left to visit Proteus at the French Opera House, where he was virtually ignored. Theme: Rules of Ancient Times
A traditional river parade saw 1891's festivities get off to a good start. James S. Richardson was Rex and Bessie Bahan, Queen. They were received with honors by Comus at midnight. The same prominence was obvious in 1892 when R. S. Day and Carrie Spelman reigned as Rex monarchs. 1891 Theme: Visions 1892 Theme: Symbolism of Colors
1893 - Nymphs and fairies, sprites and elves pranced on fabulous floats. Rex was John Poitevant and his Queen was Ella Sinnott. Theme: Fantasies
1894 - Famed authors and poets provided instructive subjects for an inspiring procession. Rex was Benjamin A. Oxnard and his Queen: Minnie Stewart. Theme: Illustrations from Literature
1895 - A parade of fabulous floats depicting legendary narratives of childhood. Rex was Frank T. Howard and his Queen was Marian Giffen. Theme: Chronicles of Fairyland - Fantastic Tales for Young and Old.
1896 - Rex was Charles Janvier and Arthemise Baldwin was his Queen. Planets, stars and other celestial masses within the Zodiac formed the nucleus of a fantastic show. Theme: Heavenly Bodies
1897 - Numerous crafts of rivers and seas vied with dream boats of fantasy. Rex: Augustin B. Wheeler and his Queen: Ethelyn Lallande. Theme: On the Water - Real and Fanciful
1898 - The anniversaries of the King of Carnival and the Father of the Country were celebrated. Charles A. Farwell was Rex. His queen was Noel Forsyth
1899 - The Boeuf Gras rode on a replica of an enormous hearse. Rex: Walter D. Denegre Queen: Perrine Kilpatrick Theme: Reveries of Rex
1900 - Dances of fantasy and reality were portrayed by capricious maskers. Rex: Thomas J. Woodward, his queen was Rosa Febiger Theme: Terpsichore
1901 - The Boeuf Gras appeared at the head of the parade for the last time. The emotions of mankind provided a subject of special interest. Theme: Human Passions and Characteristics Rex: Alfred Hennen Morris His queen: Bessie Merrick
1902 - Theme: Quotations from Literature Rex: Matthew J. Sanders His queen: May Van Benthuysen
1903 - Famous revels and historical festivals including the Roman Saturnalia were glamorized. Rex: J. Thornwell Witherspoon. His queen: Ingersoll Minge Theme: Feasta and Fetes
1904 - A theme of cretive inspiration stimulated the maskers of the kingdom of Rex. Rex was Frank B. Hayne. His queen: Josie Halliday Theme: In the Realm of Imagination
1905 - Rex honored the real Queen of Carnival by presenting a parade of imaginary rulers of folly, revelry, gaiety and kindred conceits. Rex: David Hennen Morris Queen: Hazel Ellis Theme: Idealistic Queens
1906 - The imaginary realm of an ideally perfect social and political life that simulated a day of happiness for Rex's subjects was the highlight of the celebration. Rex: Alexander M. Halliday Queen: Adrienne Lawrence Theme: IN Utopia
1907 - Depicted was the romanticism of the world. Rex: Robert H. Downman The queen: Pearl Wright Theme: Visions of the Nations
1908 - Well know fables and fairy tales were graphically delineated by legendary characters in juvenile setting of Dreamland. Rex: John J. Gannon Queen: Elizabeth Lorraine Maginnis Theme: The Classics of Childhood
1909 - Royal jewels and gems adorned the floats animated by jovial maskers in dazzling costumes. Rex: Frank B. Williams, the queen - Edith Libby Theme: The Treasures of the King
1910 - Tales of unnatural monstrosities and prodigies of inamimate beings and animals were burlesqued by bizarre maskers on grotesque cars. Rex: Hunter C. Leake Queen: Amelia Baldwin Theme: The Freaks of Fable
1911 - Artistic and scientific branches of learning delineated by ancient and modern figments Rex: William E. Stauffer, the queen: Rosa B. West Theme: Arts and Sciences
1912 - The fury of the elements were revealed with this celebration Rex: George W. Clay, the queen: Lois Janvier Theme: Phases of Nature
1913 - Rex delved into illusive charms and metamorphoses in fostering a procession of original imagination. Rex: Hugh McCloskey - Queen: Dorothy Wilmot Theme: Enchantments and Transformations
1914 - The seasonal elements from the triumph of Spring to the lament of Winter were outstandingly portrayed. Rex: Crawford H. Ellis Queen: Flores Howard Theme: The Drama of the Year
1915 - Familiar episodes from mythological and classical lyrics and narratives were illustrated by the parade participants. Rex: Ernest Lee Jacobs, the queen was Sadie Downman Theme: Fragments from Song and Story
1916 - Fanciful apparitions of poetic originality provided Rex with capricious captions for a Dream-land cavalcade. Rex: John J. Mapp Queen: Inez Lucille Ellis Theme: Visions from the Poets
The 1917 river and street pageant was the last. A huge bull with garlands and ribbons became the traditional Boeuf Gras and was guarded by butchers. The faithful steer was prepared at the feast of Mardi Gras at the parade's termination. Rex: Charles H. Hamilton, the queen was Emily Percival Douglas Theme: The Gifts of the Gods to Louisiana
1920 - Rex was in a tinsel-decorated car. Rex: John F. Clark, the queen: Elinor Bright Theme: Life's Pilgrimage
1921 - A parade of poetic beauty with ceramic floats of glazed papier-mache. Rex: Sidney J. White Queen: Dorothy Clay Theme: Porcelain in Fact and Fancy
The Golden Anniversary of the Rex Carnival Associatin of New Orleans in 1922 saw George Soule extend greetings to Comrades in the Cause of Pleasure and Partiotism. The birth of the river and the chivalrous life in the valley were expressed. Rex: Bishop C. Perkins.Queen: Marion Souchon Theme: Romances of River and Valley
1923 - Neptunus Rex ruled the curious denizens of the deep and displayed scenes under the ocean. Rex: Frederick W. Evans, queen: Emily Hayne Theme: A Fantasy of the Sea
1924 - Famous feminine personages from Eve to Martha Washington with their masked attendants Rex: Gustave B. Baldwin Queen: Margaret H. Fayssoux Theme: Notable Women from the Ages
1925 - Flat, wedge-shaped as well as collapsible fans used by fair laidies of the ages were symbolized. Rex: Leonidas M. Pool Queen: Marguerite E. White Theme: Romances of Fan Land
1926 - The Angelus, chimes and other peals of bells resounded imaginatively as the rhythmic parade passed down the streets. Rex: Joseph P. Henican Queen: Katherine Williams Theme: The Music of the Bells
1927 - A procession of fanciful floats represented harmonious themes of mythology and history paraded through the streets. Rex: Eli T. Watson Queen: Mildred Brown Theme: The Music of the Ages
1928 - The Ark, boats, ships and other water vessels were portrayed with nautical floats. Rex: Leon Irwin Queen: Elizabeth C. Watson Theme: Transportation
1929 - From Moses to Napoleon, battle wagons depicted wars. Other cars depicted more peaceful events of interest. Rex: William Henry McLellan Queen: Beecye Casanas Theme: Outline of History
1930 - Among the precious gems pictured were the purple amethyst, golder amber and emeral green. Rex: Dr. Paul H. Saunders Queen: Sirley Cordill Theme: The Jewels of Rex
1931 - Greek and Roman spectacles with scenes of later plays and comedies. Rex: Edward Everett Soule Queen: Gladys Gelpi Theme: The History of the Drama
1932 - Scenes from pageants over a period of sixty years were reviewed in an historic parade. Rex: A. B. Freeman Queen: Yvonne White Theme: Rex Scrap Book
1933 - No parade due to heavy rain. Rex: Edgar R. du Mont Queen: Mary Frances Buck No theme listed
1934 - The victory of man over the atmosphere was portrayed. Rex: Charles Whitney Bouden Queen: Laura Fenner Theme: The Conquest of the Air
1935 - The wonders of the original characteristics of the universe were displayed. Rex: Garner H. Tullis Queen: Barbara Bouden Theme: Nature's Workshop
1936 - Myths of ancient Balkan folklore provided the theme. Rex: Reuben T. Tipton Queen: Cora Stanton Jahncke Theme: Roumanian Fairy Tales
1937 - As the mother of invention, the evolution of nature was unfolded Rex: Albert Barnett Paterson Queen: Jessie Wing Janvier Theme: Nature, the First Inventor
1938 - The domains of the globe and ethereal kingdom formed a fanciful group of floats Rex: Charles McLellan Queen: Malcolm McCullough Tullis Theme: Realms of Earth, Sea and Air
1939 - Legends of old Belgium were pictured in this procession. Rex: H. Grady Meador Queen: Charlotte Hardie Theme: Belgian Fairy Tales
1940 - From Alpha to Omega, letters of the written language formed whimsical word pictures in this celebration. Rex: George H. Terriberry Queen: Katherine Phillips Theme: A Fantasy of the Alphabet
1941 - The collection of tales from the Thousand And One Nights were illustrated by scenes of Oriental magnificence. Rex: Charles E. Fenner Queen: Delphine Clark Theme: Gems From the Arabian Nights
1942 through 1945 - No processions
1946 - Supernatural stories of the stellar masses formed the basis for this parade. Rex: Judge Wayne G. Borah Queen: Emmy Lou Dicks Theme: Myths of Starry Hosts
1947 - Rex presented a group of imaginative scenes with terrific colors made lively by dazzling maskers. Rex: George G. Westfeldt Queen: Henriete Vallon Theme: What is the Sea Shell Saying
1948 - Terpsichorean steps, sedate and frolicsome, inspired this procession.Rex: Dr. Alton Ochsner Queen: Elizabeth Nicholson Theme: Dances Through the Ages
1949 - All products of the Pelican State were glorified in this celebration. Rex: Lester Alexander Queen: Dolly Ann Souchon Theme: Louisiana - Utopia of the South
1950 - Rex, inspired by Morpheus, the God of Dreams, led an animated parade through the streets. Rex: Reuben H. Brown Queen: Mary Brooks Soule
In 1951, the Rex den caught fire and the floats and most of the costumes were destroyed in December 1950. Other krewes lent floats and costumes to the club. However, Rex took the lead and cancelled the celebration in 1951 because of a National Emergency declaration. Judge George Janvier, the unofficial Rex won admirations for his unselfish actions. Queen: Ann Simpson
1952 - When Rex emerged from the devasting fire of 1950, it put on an impressive procession. William Waller Young was Rex. Television and radio carried the meeting live. Eugenie Penick Jones was Queen. The Boston Club was the scene of the pageant. Twenty new floats were constructed from the same plates as were the colorful fresh costumes. Theme: Panorama Through the Magic Sugar Egg
In 1953, Charles C. Crawford reigned as Rex and Adelaide Wisdom, Queen. The title car was adorned with seals and flags of states not represented by individual floats. Theme: Origin and Names of States
1954- Leon Irwin, Jr. reigned as Rex and Phoebe Giles Williams, Queen. Irwin's father had been Rex in 1928. Williams was the granddaughter of the 1909 Rex. Theme: Nature Creates, Man Invents
1955 - The son of the King in 1941, Darwin S. Fenner reigned as Rex. Harriet Smither was Queen. Glittering tableaux traced the highlights of Washington's life from the cherry tree to his Presidential inauguration. Theme: Washington's Birthday and Life
In 1956, Patricia Charbonnet Henican was Rex's queen. She was the granddaughter of the 1941 Rex. Edgar A. G. Bright was Rex. Twenty spectacular floats were delayed by threatening clouds but rolled down the scheduled route with only a few raindrops. Theme: Festivals Over the World