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.
Themes for the Rex Parade historically have been inspired by the worlds of mythology, art, literature, and history, and draw on the rich images of ancient cultures and faraway lands.
The 2009 Parade Theme, “Spirits of Spring,” is true to that tradition. As New Orleans continues its process of renewal and rebirth, the 2009 Rex Procession illustrates the universal appeal of that theme, with beautiful images of Springtime and renewal. From Persephone to Poseidon to Eostre, ancient cultures created legends, myths, and festivals celebrating the arrival of Spring after the harsh winter. Flowers, butterflies, and bears awakening from hibernation—all are portrayed in this tribute to the renewing joys of Spring.
Our first order of the day is to pick a costume we will wear all day, then we head downtown to catch the end of the Rex parade on Canal Street and finally we walk around the French Quarter heading to our lunch destination at Pere Antoine on the corner of St. Ann and Royal. This year we have seen the crowds reach the level we were used to before Katrina. The sun reigned the entire day and we lived to do the Fat Tuesday once more.
Mardi Gras and the Rex parade