The arrival of Rex from his royal barge, February 11, 1907. " Sunlight chased the shadows of the early morning along the great river," the Daily Picayune wrote, "and when the royal fleet went out to meet the King's yacht, it shone brilliantly on river and shore and among the green fields below the city, so familiar to the King and his party. Never was there a better day, and the royal party was met by a fleet of boats and a multitude of sightseers such as had never before gone out to welcome the sovereign to his own. . . . "For years, the old tradition of Rex's triumphant entry into the city from the river on the day before Mardi Gras was lost. Recently, however, the event has been revived, and both Rex and Zulu now come to the foot of Canal Street by boat on Lundi Gras--Fat Monday--to mark the official beginning of the city's Mardi Gras celebration.[George Francis Muggier Collection]
The arrival of these monarchs by way of the Mississippi is a tangible symbol of the many other more intangible gifts that the river has given to the Crescent City. The river has enriched the cultural heritage of New Orleans in countless ways. The boats brought material goods that enriched the quality of life-- Paris fashions, furniture, artwork, china and silver and other imported finery, wines and liquors and spices and fruits and other fancy foodstuffs from abroad. But, more importantly, the river brought people of all races and nationalities whose contributions and interaction throughout our history have influenced the atmosphere and attitudes that make New Orleans unique among American cities. Up or down the river to New Orleans came artists, musicians, writers, actors, craftsmen, teachers who added to the "gumbo" mix.
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