NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - For the first time in recent memory, a Latin American man will reign as King of Carnival, the Rex Organization announced Saturday (Feb. 18).
Ludovico Feoli is a native of Costa Rica, but he’s lived in New Orleans for over 20 years. Feoli says his selection as King feels like a dream.
In a sign of tradition, Feoli was given the official Rex flag to fly outside his Uptown home. The King of Carnival never expected to hold this role. After all, he wasn’t born or raised here, but after moving to New Orleans in 2000, quickly rooted himself in the community and culture.
His wife Stephanie has ties to the city and, over the years, the family would visit for holidays and Mardi Gras.
”Our kids, since they were very little, got to enjoy the traditions of Mardi Gras,” Feoli said.
Asked if someone would have told him years ago that he one day would reign as Carnival’s King on Mardi Gras, Feoli said, “I would never believe them. In fact, I would have told them that they were delusional.”
Feoli’s own children had a hard time believing the news. His daughter once served as a maid in Rex’s court, and his wife’s father and grandfather were both Rex members. But Feoli knows this honor, to be named King of Carnival, holds incredible meaning.
Feoli wears many hats. He serves as executive director of the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University. He’s a research professor in political science and Latin American studies there and sits on countless boards, working to make New Orleans a better place.
When he’s not juggling those roles, he’s been practicing for his reign, with the excitement building.
”One of the great things is that I’ll have long hair and I’ll probably have a beard, which I’ve never had, so that’s going to be a novelty,” Feoli said.
On this 151st anniversary of the Rex Organization, parade goers can expect to see a colorful display.
The theme is Palio di Siena. Siena is a town in Tuscany, with a centuries-old tradition much like Mardi Gras that brings people together.
”I’ve come to understand the wonderful good fortune that being able to congregate with the community represents,” Feoli said.
Feoli said his hope is that this Carnival season serves to unite the city for a day of merriment and fun.
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