Rex Butterfly King Float, New for 2012

Rex Butterfly King Float, New for 2012

First new float for REX in 30 years, that’s quite a while. I’m talking about custom REX floats that they reuse each year, like the Jester, Boeuf Gras, etc. floats. The Butterfly King is a historic figure going back well over 100 years.

The Butterfly King, a mythical figure that symbolizes the transient nature of Mardi Gras, will be represented by a permanent float in the Rex parade, starting with this year’s procession on Feb. 21. The monarch, a tubby, bewigged individual with multicolored wings, has been used by the Rex organization in designs and invitations for 130 years. The float, which is designed to carry 24 riders, is the first permanent addition to the krewe’s Fat Tuesday parade in about 30 years, Rex archivist Stephen Hales said.

Jonathan Bertuccelli, a member of a float-building family from Viareggio, Italy, is building the float, which will feature flapping wings for the king. His father, Raul Bertuccelli, was discovered by Mardi Gras mogul Blaine Kern in the 1960s, when Kern was studying European celebrations. Bertuccelli and his family moved to New Orleans in 1977 to work with Kern.

Jonathan Bertuccelli, a member of a float-building family from Viareggio, Italy, is building the float, which will feature flapping wings for the king. His father, Raul Bertuccelli, was discovered by Mardi Gras mogul Blaine Kern in the 1960s, when Kern was studying European celebrations. Bertuccelli and his family moved to New Orleans in 1977 to work with Kern.

Viareggio, Italy Coast Line

Viareggio Coast Line

Viareggio, Italy Carnival Float

Viareggio Carnival Float of the Provocative Singer Renato Zero.

The Viareggio floats are huge, they are often taller than the buildings along the promenade. People who see them for the first time are usually impressed by their size, which was unexpected. But they are also beautiful and extremely complex. It takes about a year to make one of them. The creator is often a renowned local artist, a painter whose float carries his signature as if it were a painting or sculpture.

 

While the parade rolls, circling the seafront, the float is animated from within by several people who operate the mechanisms that make heads on the float turn, eyes roll, mouths open and smile, arms and legs raise, birds spread their wings, and every little detail come to life.

 

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