Krewe of Rex special pins date back to the late 1800s

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NEW ORLEANS -- If you plan on attending any parades this Carnival season, don't look up or you might miss the best-kept secret of Mardi Gras hidden in plain sight.

The Krewe of Rex, the oldest parading organization, creates a special pin each year for members and family.

It's a tradition that dates back to 1872.

"Each of these tiny pins carries creativity and tells its own story," says reigning Rex king and historian, Dr. Stephen Hales.

Every year, these special medallions get a makeover.

"Virtually every king of carnival has designed a special pin with the help of jewelers who are very skilled in helping take a vision and an idea and transform that into a pin," says Dr. Hales.

The pins aren't for everyone.

They are exclusively for krewe members, their family, and friends.

Each year significant others receive a box with that year's pin inside and a card describing the design.

"They are distinctive, they have little purple green and gold ribbons," says Dr. Hales.

So these next few weeks, keep your eyes wide open for special nods toward Mardi Gras, like these special pins, and their rich history.

"When we think of Mardi Gras, and if I think of Rex, I tend to think of the parade and the ball. These are really large celebrations and they are very public. The giving of the pin is a much more personal much smaller scale part of that celebration and it can be very special," says Dr. Hales.

Right now Tiffany Adler at Adler's jewelry store creates all of these unique trinkets.

The Krewe of Rex will roll through uptown on Mardi Gras on Tuesday, February the 13th.