2020 New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade Schedule 2020
Behind the Curtain

Karen Martin
Queen of Krewe du Vieux Sub-Krewe Mama Roux & Fourth time serving as New Orleans Mardi Gras Royalty

Karen Martin has been a Queen of a New Orleans Carnival Organization not once or twice but three times and her fourth reign will occur tonight at the Krewe du Vieux parade as part of the sub-Krewe Mama Roux.

Karen Martin, a retired social worker, and her husband Phil Martin spend a lot of time working on costumes for the Ducks of Dixieland, Phunny Phorty Phellows, and Mama roux. She also takes care of her grandson everyday when her daughter goes to work.

Reigns as Queen include: Queen of Alhambra in 1966, Queen of Carrollton in 1967, Queen of Phunny Phorty Phellows in 1996, and Queen of Mama Roux this year 2008.

What has been your happiest moment as being a Queen of a New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewe or Organization so far?
Walking out on the floor of the auditorium holding my father’s hand when I was Queen of Alhambra.

To what do you attribute the fact that you have been selected as Queen more then once?
My family was a Mardi Gras Family from the beginning. My mother always said Mardi Gras was her favorite holiday. Her favorite attire was also a formal. My father was also very much into Mardi Gras. He participated in many balls. He was also the “singing captain” of Alhambra. When I married I naturally found someone equally into the holiday. We often tease that my husband married me for my dowry. I inherited many colorful costumes and multiple bolts of shiny fabric from my father.

How where you informed the first time you were selected as to reign as a Queen?
The first time I became Queen it was of Alhambra. My father was a member of the organization for many years and had placed my name on the queen list when I was much younger. Therefore, I knew before I became Queen. In the case of Carrollton, my parents informed me that they had an opportunity to make me Queen of Carrollton. I remembered being concerned that it would be too expensive. My father told me an amount that was not very much and I was relieved and excited about being Queen. Years later when I was cleaning my mother’s home after Katrina I found the bill and they had left off a few zeros. When I became Queen of PPP I learned on the night of the streetcar ride after I selected the piece of the King Cake with the doll. I was thrilled and I danced my heart out all night. Recently, when I was selected as Queen of Mama Roux I found out when the Captain of our organization invited us. This was not an expected honor. This will be a very special night as I am very proud of my participation in Mama Roux.

Did you learn anything from your experience that changed your life?
I think it can increase your confidence for a young girl to be presented as royalty for Mardi Gras.

Do you have any Mardi Gras traditions you cherish or hold dear?

Cooking breakfast on Mardi Gras morning in my Duck Butt.

Do you have any stories or remembrances of your Gown? The fitting the choice? The crown?
Actually there is usually very little choice when it comes to selecting your outfit for most Mardi Gras Balls. However, I do remember that the mantle was very heavy and difficult to pull. However, the excitement of the moment makes it easy.

What is your first Mardi Gras memory and costume?

My first Mardi Gras costume was a cowgirl. It was very popular to be Dale Evans in those days.

Are you a member of any Krewe (besides Mama Roux/KDV) at this time?
I belong to Ducks of Dixieland, Phunny Phorty Phellows and The Krewe of Tucks.

What was or is the hardest part about being Mardi Gras royalty?
When it is over.

How will your 2008 reign differ from your first or other reigns?

This will be the first time ever that I ride on a float. I think riding with my husband will also make it very special. He did much of the work on our float. I am very proud of how talented he is and how much joy he gets from his Mardi Gras creations.

If you could be Queen of any marching group or parade what would your choice be?
Ducks of Dixieland. This is a group that I am very fond of.

Any behind the scenes or embarrassing moments you'd like to reveal?
I do not remember any embarrassing moments. However, I think I will tell you of an experience I found exciting. When I was Queen of Carrollton the captain of MidCity came to my home to escort my mother and myself to the parade. We had a limousine and police escort. I was just nineteen at the time and I thought I was pretty special.

Who was your favorite King that you have ruled with to date?

My favorite king without a doubt was my father. He shared the experience of being King and Queen of Alhambra. Tomorrow night I will share the experience with my husband as King and Queen of Mama roux. So who knows what I will say tomorrow.

Do you go to many parades?
As many as we can.

Has anyone in your family ever served a Mardi Gras Royalty?

My niece was a maid in Olympians. My mother was also queen of the ULL Mardi Gras Ball in 1942.

Is there any special moments you still have from your past reigns that you could not part with?
When I had the experience of being Queen with my father We were in the middle of the grand march. Just then I started to move and couldn’t. The heel of my shoe was caught in a opening in the floor. I told my daddy and in typical fashion he simply reached down and removed my shoes from the crack. I do not believe anyone else hardly noticed. My father was always a man who one could depend on.

What are your feeling about post Katrina Mardi Gras? Do you see it changing?
Naturally, Katrina has affected everything in New Orleans. Carnival evolves as everything does and it will continue to change. However, I can hope it will continue to be a morale booster for all of us struggling to make New Orleans a better place to live.

How will this reign for 2008 Mardi Gras differ from your past royal duties?
It will be less formal than my duties when I was a girl. My main duty will be to have fun.

Does being a Queen of a parade differ from being the Queen of a non-parading Krewe?
When you are Queen with a parade there are extra festivities.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for someone who might be selected as a Queen of a Mardi Gras Krewe?
Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy.

Untitled Document

The Mistik Krewe
Chronicles of Comus
and His Kin

by Perry Young

Available Here!

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