Southern Focus

Remembering Mr. Mardi Gras

New Orleans photographer Chris Granger commemorates Blaine Kern and the joy tucked away at his public warehouse

Photo: Chris Granger

New Orleans, Louisiana
Photograph by Chris Granger

“Walking through Mardi Gras World is like seeing a who’s who of the past,” says the New Orleans photographer Chris Granger of the open-to-the-public warehouses at Kern Studios, which has been turning out parade floats—including this grinning Ben Franklin sandwiched between the Three Stooges and NFL players—since 1947. “When I look back at this shot,” Granger says, “it just comes to life; I can hear the floats rumbling and the people screaming for beads.” Blaine Kern, the founder of Mardi Gras World, passed away in June at age ninety-three, but NOLA’s parades (although on hold this year) testify to his enduring contribution to float design. “He embodied the spirit of Mardi Gras, and he left his mark on it,” says Granger, who photographed Kern several times over the years. “Maybe this year will be a time to reflect on his legacy, and since you can’t go to the parades, pay a visit to Mardi Gras World.”