Krewe of Rex
The Krewe of Rex entered the picture in 1872. New Orleans was struggling to recover from the lingering effects of the civil war, and divisions and isolation prevailed. At the same time, many city leaders saw the need to bring some order to the chaotic street parades of Mardi Gras day. The news that Russia’s Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff would visit Mardi Gras and New Orleans provided another impetus to add order and brilliance to the day.
The group of young men who founded the Rex Organization hoped not only to entertain the Grand Duke, but also to create a daytime parade that would be attractive and fun for the citizens of the city and their guests. True to the Rex motto, “Pro Bono Publico—for the public good,” they succeeded beyond their hopes. They selected one of their members, Lewis J. Solomon, to be the first Rex, King of Carnival. Before he could begin his reign he had to borrow a crown, scepter, and costume from an actor who happened to be performing in town at the time.
The first Rex Parade bore little resemblance to the Rex Processions of later years. Rex rode a horse, not a float. The parade that followed was made up largely of the informal maskers and marchers who were on the streets anyway. The 1873 Rex Procession was better organized and far more grand, beginning a long tradition of colorful and creative parades illustrating a theme selected from the worlds of literature or mythology.
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.
Krewe of Rex