This is a guest post by Susan Payton of The Unexplorer.
If you’re like many (myself included, despite my Cajun heritage), when you think of Mardi Gras, you think of drunken debauchery and crowds in the French Quarter of New Orleans. On a recent trip to The Crescent City, my eyes were opened to what Mardi Gras really is: two weeks of revelry for every audience: from tiny tots who watch parades in the suburbs from atop ladders turned into chairs to those drunken youngsters in the Quarter, many of whom are visitors.
Bacchus float at Mardi Gras World. Photo © 2016 Susan Payton
But the Mardi Gras of today would be nothing without one family: the Kern family. What were once simple horse-drawn cart floats became visions of fantasy when artist Blaine Kern began designing parade floats in 1947. Since then, he has built an empire that the Mardi Gras industry relies heavily on, as well as the global entertainment industry. Blaine Studios designs floats and props for Euro Disney, Chik-fil-A, and Universal Studios, to name a few, and now there are four generations of Kerns who have expanded the company’s operations. […]