HISTORY: WHERE THE MAGIC STARTED
Blaine Kern grew up on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. New Orleans was always a presence and an inspiration. Blaine’s father, Roy Kern, was an artist turned sign painter who worked his way through the Depression painting names on the bows of freighters and barges. As a young boy, Blaine learned and watched as his father build his first Mardi Gras float on the back on a mule-drawn wagon in 1932, and waited for his chance.
That chance came in 1947 when Blaine’s mother was hospitalized. The young man painted a mural in the hospital to help pay her medical bills. The painting caught the eye of a surgeon who was captain of the Mardi Gras Krewe of Alla. One float led to another and Blaine was hired to design a complete parade. Over time, he became the city’s leading parade designer and builder, working with Rex, Zulu and other legendary krewes. Blaine was instrumental in the founding and formative years of some of New Orleans biggest parades and “Super Krewes.”
During numerous trips to Italy, France, and Spain, Blaine was impressed by the extravagant prop concepts and animation that marked the European style of float building. He brought them home to New Orleans and developed the monumental scale and lavish ornamentation of today’s Mardi Gras spectaculars.
The Kerns are universally recognized as the makers of Mardi Gras magic. The tradition continues under the third generation of Kern leadership. Blaine’s son, Barry Kern, is the president and CEO of Kern Studios and Mardi Gras World. This summer, Kern Studios welcomes a fourth generation of family leadership to the business. Fitz Kern, Barry’s oldest son, now joins the Kern Studios management team.
Barry grew up working in the family business. Barry has traveled abroad from a young age to interact with designers and artists worldwide in similar businesses. He has taken Kern Studios from a float building company specializing in New Orleans Mardi Gras to be the world’s leading maker of floats, props, and sculpture. Kern Studios designs, builds, and produces parades, creates unique objects of art, and builds themed environments for museums, theme parks, restaurants, and attractions worldwide. Kern artists have been behind major projects for theme parks including Disney, Universal Studios, Paramount Parks, Six Flags and casinos including Harrah’s, MGM Grand, Circus Casino, and countless other projects internationally. Kern Studios produces floats and props for over forty New Orleans parades as well as pageants around the world—from Shanghai to Montreal.
Kern Studios at Mardi Gras World on the New Orleans riverfront, is the city's largest and most diverse complex of premier event venues. It embraces the unique attraction, Mardi Gras World, where visitors and locals alike immerse themselves in the color, music, history, and magic of Mardi Gras every day of the year.