of Krewe du Vieux Sub-Krewe Mama Roux &
Fourth time serving as New Orleans Mardi Gras
Martin (formerly Karen Richard) with her
Father Jules Richard as King and Queen
of Alhambra 1966
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.
of Carrolton 1967 Karen Martin with her
father Jules Richard and her mother Emily
has been your happiest moment as being a Queen
of a New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewe or Organization
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.
and Queen of Carrolton 1967
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.
Martin as queen of Phunny Phorty Phellows
Are you a member
of any Krewe (besides Mama Roux/KDV) at this
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.
Martin with the Ducks of Dixieland 1986
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
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
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.
for the Krewe of Alhambra 1966
How will this reign
for 2008 Mardi Gras differ from your past
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
Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy.