NEW ORLEANS — Have you seen the Queen of Carnival?
In the past week or so, you might have seen her blonde ponytail swinging as she jogged in City Park. Or maybe you saw her kayaking in Bayou St. John.
On Fat Tuesday all the world will see her– wearing a crown.
Sarah Jane Freeman, a junior at the University of Virginia, is this year’s Rex Queen.
If her last name sounds familiar, maybe it’s because her grandfather, Louis Freeman, was Rex in 1999; her great-grandfather, Richard Freeman, was Rex in 1959, and her great-great-grandfather, Alfred Freeman, was Rex in 1932.
Her great-aunt, Tina Louise Freeman, was the Rex Queen in 1971; her aunt, Laura Freeman, was the Rex Queen in 1984, and her second cousin, Adair Freeman, was the Rex Queen in 1987.
There’s a lot of royal blood in the Freeman family. And a scrapbook of those royal relatives is what her parents presented to her when they gave her the news that she was next in line.
“I thought they were just showing me the book,” laughs Freeman, “so it was a good cover.”
That private announcement was almost a year ago, and Freeman says it wasn’t easy to keep the upcoming coronation a secret from her friends.
“There have just been some guesses, and you’ve got to be, like ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,'” she says, “so it’s been fun.”
Freeman says she loves parties and dancing (“Dancing in the Moonlight,” the 1973 hit, is her favorite song) and she had always admired the bling on the ballgowns of past Rex Queens.
This year, she helped design her own glittering gown.
It’s going to be a brief reign, but it will include a public toast during the Rex parade when Freeman, joined by her maids, will rise from their seats on the reviewing stand near Gallier Hall. That’s when this year’s Rex, Lynes “Poco” Sloss, will roll up on his float to pay homage to his Queen and share a glass of champagne.
In the evening comes the grand finale: the semi-private Rex Ball (it’s by invitation only, but WYES is allowed broadcast it). That’s where Freeman will wear the gown and wave her scepter as she strolls around the room with her King.
After the carefully choreographed display of majesty, Queen Freeman and King Sloss will watch from their thrones as Rex members, in their tuxes and tails and white gloves, present themselves and their dates and bow to the faux royalty. Then they will all dance until the clock strikes midnight.
Perhaps the band will play “Dancing in the Moonlight.”