Blaine Kern, Mr. Mardi Gras, laid to rest

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Kern was 93 when he died.

NEW ORLEANS —

The sights and sounds of Carnival in New Orleans were Blaine Kern’s life.

And they were on full display Friday as the city mourned his death — in an only-in-New Orleans way, tailor made for the man known as “Mr. Mardi Gras.”

Kern, 93, died June 25.

The float builder and artist was known for many Carnival innovations, including the superkrewe, and helped to define the season as it’s known today.

Flowers from various krewes lined the ballroom inside Gallier Hall, the place where Carnival royalty are toasted.

It’s also where Kern — in a purple, green and gold bow tie and tuxedo — rested as mourners paid their respects.

“Blaine Kern is just a larger-than-life personality,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie. “And he really did put New Orleans on the map in a different way.”

Kern’s flag-draped coffin was rolled into Gallier Hall’s Blue Ballroom to the sounds of “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?”

That was soon followed by the sounds of taps, in honor of his service during World War II.

The flag on Kern’s casket was later replaced with his regal purple and gold cape from his 50-year run as captain of the Krewe of Alla.

“The city of New Orleans, she’s 300 years old,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. “But I’m telling you, she surely came to life throughout the legacy built by Mr. Kern.”

Blaine Kern Jr. said his dad’s name could light up a room, a memory that softened the loss. “You just mention his name, people smile. What more do you need?”

The memorial service was smaller than it might otherwise have been, and those who attended had to wear masks because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s not Blaine’s typical celebration, but it’s one I believe he’s looking down upon with the widest grin ever,” his wife, Holly Kern, said.

Blaine Kern, ever the showman, went out with one final spectacle, modified a bit thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr., accompanied by a handful of Mardi Gras Indians, led the casket out of the ballrooms and down the steps of Gallier Hall, where it was loaded into a hearse.

Kern was later buries at Westlawn Memorial Park in Gretna during a private ceremony. 

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