Blaine Kern Sr., known as “Mr. Mardi Gras,” has died at the age of 93.
Kern was the second of three generations of Kerns to run Kern Studios, which builds Mardi Gras floats for 18 different krewes each year, including Rex and Zulu. The studios were founded in 1947 by his father, Roy Kern.
Blaine Kern Sr. traveled to Italy, France and Spain to apprentice with builders and develop expertise in building and ornamentation, according to the studio’s website. Today the Kern Mardi Gras empire is run by his son, Barry Kern.
Kern Studios opened to the public in 1984 with Mardi Gras World, a museum that showcases floats and art.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell called Kern “a legend.” She issued a statement this morning on his death, saying, “What Mardi Gras is today ... owes much to him and his imagination, his larger-than-life personality, and his relentless creativity.”
The mayor’s statement credits Kern for developing the double-decker and multi-unit floats and on-board animatronics that feature prominently in many parades today.