THE ICON: W. Boatner Reily III
THE LEGACY: W. Boatner Reily III grew up learning to love, and embrace, New Orleans’ rich and varied customs. What else would you expect from the man who reigned as Rex in 1982 and who for decades ran Reily Foods, the company that produces such thoroughly New Orleans brands as Luzianne Tea, Blue Plate Mayonnaise and French Market Coffee? At the same time, though, he wasn’t your traditional traditionalist, unafraid to complement time-honored practices with innovation, most notably in his reintroduction in 1977 of satire to New Orleans’ modern Carnival celebrations, which had fallen out of favor under pressure from thin-skinned politicians 100 years earlier. In so doing, Reily found a way, as he often did, to perfectly honor the city’s history while also bettering its future — and with a dash of wit thrown in.
THE ARTIST: Sean Randall, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I told them the crown was the right size but they’d probably have to shrink my head.” — W. Boatner Reily III, on his reign as Rex