(WGNO) – “Earliest memories of Mardi Gras: It was Canal St., where we’d go with my parents. We’d put on a costume of some sort, and get on a ladder.”
John P. “Jack” Laborde remembers going downtown for Mardi Gras as a child and seeing the Rex Parade. He never thought one day he would be the King of Carnival.
“It’s on your list of things you may accomplish in life. But, so few people get this honor,” says Laborde.
This year, Laborde will have that honor. He will reign as Rex 2014.
See who the Queen is, here.
Laborde has been a part of the organization for 30 years. But, when he got the news he would be king, he actually thought something else was happening.
“There were actually a bunch of long and serious faces looking at me,” says Laborde. “One of them said, ‘We’re going to ask you to ride somewhere else this year.’ And I’m thinking, aww, gonedoggit. And then he says, ‘Further back.’ I said okay. He said, ‘On a float.’ And I’m… oh no– which is a nice place, but I like my place up front on a horse. And he said, ‘Well, we’re going to let you ride on the king’s float.’ And I thought to myself, I’m too old to be a page. So I said, ‘That’ll work.’”
Being Rex isn’t just about presiding over a parade and ball. It’s also about giving back to the community.
The Rex motto is “Pro bono public” — for the public good. And, Laborde has been working on behalf of the people of New Orleans for a long time.
He’s currently Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Sugar Bowl Committee and is fighting to keep the Superdome in the mix as college football switches to a playoff system.
Just another day at work for the king of carnival–a title Laborde is grateful to have.
“It’s an honor representing that group in this parade on that day.”