POSTED: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 2:47pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 11:46pm
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WDSU) — The Superkrewe of Endymion will roll with its first African-American king this year. New Orleans native George LaFargue Jr. will reign as the 46th king.
LaFargue owns George's Produce in Terrytown. Growing up as a small boy in the Lower 9th Ward, he said he never imagined he would one day be king of a Mardi Gras krewe. But this year, the unimaginable came true.
There were tears of joy as one after another, friends filled George's Produce with hugs and kisses.
"He's a huge personality with a huge heart," said one of LaFargue's long-time friends.
All his friends wanted to congratulate LaFargue after he was crowned the first African-American king of the Krewe of Endymion.
"It means a whole lot to me," said LaFargue.
LaFargue said he's loved Mardi Gras since he was a boy.
"Some of my sisters and brothers used to tell me I was crazy," he said. "I used to go in the back yard and throw beads at myself and throw stuff up in the air. I always believed that I would ride and become members in one of these parade venues."
The successful produce business owner is now in the business of preparing for one of the biggest moments of his life.
"It was God sent to me, that's what I believe," he said.
LaFargue was invited to join Endymion six years ago. He recalled riding on his first float.
"I was crying because I was happy, and for me to see this and for me to be a part of an organization like Endymion, I'm very emotional about that," he said.
The normally gregarious man said he's at a loss for words.
"I'm speechless about this," he said. "Besides God, I got to be the luckiest man on Earth. This is like hitting the lottery."
In fact, it was a lottery that chose LaFargue as king.
"For that young lady to pull my name out of the barrel, with 3,000-some-plus envelopes in there, that's unbelievable," LaFargue said.
Mardi Gras guide Arthur Hardy explained the process.
"Every club has its own methodology for selecting its royalty, and in Endymion it's by the lottery, a draw," Hardy said. "The queen gets to pick her king."
Serving as the first African-American king is an honor, but LaFargue said the issue of color shouldn't be important.
"What is important is that we are members of an organization, that we parade in the streets of New Orleans. It's a free party, and everybody should be happy," he said.
But he said his wife said it best.
"She said, 'It hasn't really sank into you yet exactly how important this is for the city of New Orleans,'" LaFargue said.
LaFargue said he has been getting calls from all over the world about being selected king. He said it will be a busy Mardi Gras season because he is also a member of Zulu.
Endymion is one of the largest parades during Mardi Gras season. This year, Maroon 5 will serve as grand marshals, while Big & Rich and Anderson Cooper will ride as the krewe's special guests.