Rex is an organization with 19th century roots, but this year’s King of Carnival, Lynes “Poco” Sloss, is very much 21st century. Sloss is president and CEO of Bellwether Technology, a computer consulting company he co-founded in 1980 when personal computers were far from common. But his focus for now is on the role of a lifetime, as Rex.
“I am extraordinarily flattered and excited about it. A bit surprised, but delighted. I can’t wait for the day,” he said.
Reigning as the 2018 Queen of Carnival will be Sarah Jane Holbrook Freeman, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis McDaniel Freeman Jr. and a student at the University of Virginia.
Both Rex and his queen have deep family ties to Carnival. Freeman’s grandfather, Louis McDaniel Freeman, was Rex 1999, while her great-uncle, Richard West Freeman Jr., was Rex 2003. Her great-aunt, Tina Freeman, was Queen of Carnival in 1971 and her aunt Laura was queen in 1984. Her great-grandfather, Richard West Freeman, was king in 1959, while her second great-grandfather, A.B. Freeman, was Rex in 1932.
Sloss’ daughter, Nina O’Brien Sloss, was Queen of Carnival in 2013. He has been a dedicated civic leader for many years, serving on the boards of the Audubon Nature Institute, Bureau of Governmental Research, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, NOCCA and WYES, just to name some of his civic endeavors. He is also co-chair of the capital campaign to build the new Louisiana Children’s Museum in City Park. Sloss is a graduate of Metairie Park Country Day School and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He and his wife, Eugenie, known as “Liz,” are both native New Orleanians.
Sloss said receiving the news he had been selected as this year’s Rex came as a surprise. “I think everybody who’s ever seen the Rex parade go by wonders what it’d be like to sit on top of that king’s float, which I’m very much looking forward to doing. Of course I wanted to be Rex someday, but I didn’t have any way of thinking it would be me. I’m delighted.”
To mark the city’s tricentennial, this year’s Rex parade will salute some special people, places and events of the past 300 years, and this year’s king says he is proud to be riding at the front of such a special parade. “I’m a lifelong New Orleanian, my family been here since the late 18th century and we love the city, so I’m doubly honored to be King of Carnival in the 300th anniversary. It definitely makes it more special.”
When Sloss isn’t behind the computer or working for a non-profit cause, he enjoys hunting, fishing and flying. This year’s Rex is also a pilot. “I’d always been interested in flying. I’m interested in technology since I’m in the technology business and flying’s got a lot of technology associated with it. When I got to be 55, I sort of made the decision it’s now or never - either I’m going to learn now or I’m not and fortunately I was able to have the time to take to learn how to do it so I did and it’s been extremely rewarding.”
This year’s Queen of Carnival said she is elated to have been selected to reign over Mardi Gras during the city’s tricentennial year. “When I learned I would be queen during the 300th anniversary, my heart skipped a beat. I was so excited. I’m just so honored and so thankful that I get to experience everything during the 300th anniversary,” Freeman said.
She said she has memories of going to Mardi Gras parades as a child, to see her father, who rode in several parades. “It was always so great seeing my dad, seeing him smiling and throwing us some beads and especially in Rex, where he would be on the ‘cow’ float, which I thought it was called, because I would always get the stuffed animal cow from him (on the Boeuf Gras float). But it was really fun.”
Freeman is majoring in media studies at UVA, with a minor in art history. She also studied at the London School of Economics and The Sorbonne in Paris, France. She is a graduate of the Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia. In her free time, she says she enjoys the outdoors, hiking, running, canoeing and kayaking. She also enjoys music, travel and doing anything creative. “I love to be creative and create,” she said. She even designed the gown she will wear Tuesday night at the Rex Ball.
Freeman plans to intern at an interior design firm in New York next summer and pursue a career either in design, advertising or public relations. “What I am really looking for the most is having that kind of creative energy. I want to keep on creating for the rest of my lie and being part of creating something is really what I’m looking for.”