New Orleans (WGNO)- This year's Rex never saw it coming. Like so many other majesties before him, he was duped. Called to a "tax meeting" of the Rex organization, the future King of Carnival arrived with financial papers in hand-- only to find that he had been chosen to wear the priceless crown.
On Fat Tuesday, Dr. Stephen Hales, a well-known local pediatrician, will have to put down his stethoscope and pick up his royal scepter.
Although he's not a native New Orleanian, Dr. Hales arrived in 1975 to serve as acting Chief of Pediatrics at the New Orleans Public Health Service Hospital. Later he founded his own practice, Hales Pediatrics, and for many years he taught a course on doctor-patient relationships and medical ethics for first-year LSU medical students.
Dr. Hales is also the official archivist for the Rex organization, and his knowledge of Rex history has made him a frequent guest on the WYES-TV broadcast of the Rex Ball and the meeting of the courts of Rex and Comus.
But every Carnival, you can find Dr. Hales leading a younger crowd of dignitaries on tours of the Rex Den. He enjoys showing the colorful Rex floats to fascinated children on school field trips.
After Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Hales became a founding board member of "Pro Bono Publico," the Rex foundation that has invested nearly six million dollars since 2006 in the reform of New Orleans' struggling public schools.
Dr. Hales and his wife Nancy have six children-- all boys- and the couple jokes that they have "adopted" six girls-- the wives of their grown sons. They also have 13 grandchildren. Nancy is an accomplished architect and artist.
As a Rex historian, Dr. Hales has become part of that history himself. He says it is a "distinct honor and a privilege" to serve.
All hail Rex, 2017!