New Orleans ‑ Carnival 2013 may have ceded the spotlight last weekend as the NFL crowned the Baltimore Ravens as Super Bowl champs, but Carnival wasted no time reclaiming its throne as parades rolled and rolled and the weekend brought the coronation of Zulu and the revelation of the identities of Rex and the Queen of Carnival.
William H. Hines, a lawyer who is a managing partner with the law firm Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre, will reign Tuesday as Rex. Hines, a New Orleans native, has a lengthy résumé of business and civic involvement in New Orleans, including government appointments to the Downtown Development District, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Economic Development Transition Task Force and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Economic Growth Advisory Council and Business Retention and Recruitment Panel.
Hines’ civic involvement includes service on a number of economic development boards, such as Greater New Orleans Inc. and the Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region, along with a raft of arts and sports organizations.
His queen is Nina O’Brien Sloss, a graduate of Isidore Newman School and a student at the University of Georgia, who is majoring in international affairs. Her Rex family tree includes a grandmother and aunt, who were queens of Carnival, and a great-grandfather, Joseph Merrick Jones, who was Rex in 1959.
Zulu’s royalty is not a secret, and Cedric Givens, transportation director for Intercontinental Private Equity, was elected in May. But his reign was made official Friday night at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, when he was crowned along with his wife, Monica Givens, who is business manager for McDonogh 35 Junior High School.
Givens was anticipating an exciting and emotional evening late Friday afternoon as he waited for the limousine that would take him and his family to the Convention Center.
Givens, who has been active in Zulu for about 10 years, said that he had little thought of being king initially. But there were hints that a crown awaited him. He and some other members of Zulu who formed a small social group began calling themselves The Twelve Future Kings, and one of them, Tyrone Mathieu, did become king in 2009.
Givens said he began getting serious about making a bid for king about four years ago. He credits his wife, whom he called his “backbone,’’ for helping him mount a successful campaign. Winning the election “brought tears to my eyes,’’ he said. “It was a great feeling, to have all my family with me, and I felt privileged that my Zulu brothers had the confidence in me to allow me to represents them,’’ he said.
The next few days will be tiring, he acknowledged. His royal regalia — burnt orange, gold, silver and white — weighs about 150 pounds. The ball will be followed by Lundi Gras activities that include meeting the king and queen of Argus — Raymond Brandt and Lydia Netterville — at Rivertown on Monday and making an appearance at Zulu Lundi Gras at Woldenberg Park. And then of course, there’s the parade. Zulu steps off at 8 a.m., and he plans to get up at 3 a.m. to make it to his float by 6 a.m.
In between, his family will be watching Endymion and Bacchus. “That’s my family and how we grew up, loving Carnival,’’ he said.
But as a youngster, he says, he never got to see Zulu. His parents treated Zulu as an adults-only affair and sent the kids to spend the day with their grandmother. That’s not the case for Givens and his family, however. His 19-year-old son, Ryan, will be riding on the king’s float with him, and daughter Rayna, 15, will be riding with her mother, the queen.
Carnival royalty won’t be the only ones who will be tired out by Tuesday night. Parades on Sunday begin with Okeanos at 11 a.m. and culminate with the super krewe of Bacchus, with celebrity monarch G.W. Bailey, at 5:30 p.m.
Lundi Gras is jam-packed with Carnival activities that begin long before Proteus and Orpheus roll at 5:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively
Zulu Lundi Gras with music, food and appearances by Zulu characters will be held at Woldenberg Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Just a short distance away, Riverwalk Lundi Gras at Spanish Plaza will run from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. with Rex making an appearance at 6 p.m.
Fat Monday at the French Market — new this year — will feature a slate of music and activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., including a mask market and crafts for children.
In Jefferson Parish, Lundi Gras in Rivertown runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with live entertainment, food and crafts. Lundi Fest will be in swing on the Veterans Boulevard neutral ground across from Lakeside Mall from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., with the Krewe of Hera and Krewe of Zeus parades to cap off the day’s activities.