NEW ORLEANS - Traditions of the Rex organization have become themes of carnival in New Orleans.
The original Rex colors, purple, green and gold, have become the signature colors of Mardi Gras. Rex has reigned as king of carnival since 1872.
Every year the identities of Rex, and his queen, are kept secret until Lundi Gras.
Reigning as Rex 2012 is New Orleans native Hardy Fowler.
"I was honored and thrilled, I really am. This is an honor unlike any other that I have received," Fowler said.
Although Fowler grew up in New Orleans, he moved away during his high school years. But, he made it back to Louisiana to attend LSU and then graduate school at Tulane.
"Oh I love LSU. If you were to express it in the financial vernacular you would say I'm over-invested in LSU," Fowler said.
The financial vernacular comes from Fowler's accounting background. In fact, he's kept the financial statements and budgets for the organization for several years. That's why it wasn't much of a surprise when the captain asked him to meet about forming an audit committee, although Fowler didn't think that was necessary.
"I'm wondering how I'm gonna tell him this without hurting his feelings. I've served on audit committees. I know when you need one and when you don't," he said.
The meeting, however, was really to surprise Fowler with an invitation to reign as king of carnival.
"There's this table full of people and my reaction is, 'Oh my gosh, we've got some terrible accounting problem, some Enronesque type problem.' Fortunately it was a ruse," he said.
Fowler has been a member of Rex for 25 years. Both his children served on Rex courts, but he's a first generation king.
My dad was from a small town in Texas and he was not a member of the Rex organization.
That's unlike this years queen, who comes from a long line of Rex royalty.
Continuing her family tradition, Ella Bright, 20, reigned as queen this year.
"My family's been involved for forever it seems like. My great grandfather, Popsy, was king in 1956. My Aunt Elenor was queen, and my cousin Jane was queen last year," she said.
Bright is a junior at Southern Methodist University and a graduate of Country Day, where she attended school for 13 years.
"I grew up in the Garden District, so I took the bus to school every day. And then in seventh grade we moved out to Metairie and we started walking to school. I played volleyball for Country Day, I rode horses as a kid, and went to camp up in North Carolina," she said.
And she has something in common with Rex - she's studying accounting.
"It's so funny when we figured it out. His wife said, 'Oh, ya'll have something in common, you will have something to talk about all night since you spend a lot of time together,'" Bright said.
The crowned jewels Bright will wear are passed down ever year, but the dress is her own.
"We started meeting with the dressmaker, Suzanne Perone, in May," she said. "We did some estimation and we think there's about 25,000 beads on the dress"
Following her reign, Bright will intern in New York City where she hopes to work after gradution. But, then she plans to come back home.
"I don't think there's a better place that you could grow up. There's so many different things that you get to experience at all different ages. And making my debut this year and doing all the Rex stuff is so much fun and it's a totally different way of seeing everything," Bright said.