THE ICON: Paul McIlhenny
THE LEGACY: You could be forgiven for thinking the head of the family-owned company that makes the world’s favorite hot sauce would be sharp, fiery, hot-tempered. You’d be wrong, however, as evidenced by Paul McIlhenny, the former Tabasco president and CEO who was known for his ebullient, life-of-the-party outlook (and an endless supply of jokes). When he traveled, he was a tireless ambassador for Louisiana culture. When he was home in New Orleans, he was a morale officer who could lift any room — or even the whole city, as he did in 2006 when he reigned as the first post-Katrina Rex and quickly quashed any talk of canceling that year’s Carnival celebration. Because somebody named McIlhenny, of all people, knows as well as anyone: What’s life without a little spice?
THE ARTIST: Sean Randall
THE INSPIRATION: “Come hell or high water, we will have Mardi Gras. It’s in the soul and the fabric and the fiber of the city and the people. People will celebrate in one form or another. If someone said he’s going to pull a wagon with beads, that’s a form of Mardi Gras.” — Paul McIlhenny, in 2006, before riding as the first post-Katrina Rex