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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2018 file photo, Blane Kern, poses with his wife Holly, on a float in his float den at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. The man known as “Mr. Mardi Gras" for helping to convert the annual pre-Lenten celebration into a giant event in New Orleans has died. News outlets report that Blaine Kern Sr. died Thursday, June 25, 2020. For decades, Kern's work helped boost New Orleans' Carnival. (Max Becherer/The Advocate via AP)

NEW ORLEANS -- Blaine Kern Sr., a float builder who often was credited with helping expand New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration into a giant event known worldwide, has died.

News outlets reported that Kern, known as "Mr. Mardi Gras" for his decades of work that helped boost New Orleans Carnival celebration, died Thursday. He was 93.

Kern's wife, Holly Kern, told WWL-TV that her husband loved what he did and was always eager to share the story of Mardi Gras.

"He was an amazing guy. So generous, so kind. He had a love for life and a zest for life that I've never seen before," she said. Kern developed an infection after a fall and died at home, she said.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell said Kern was "an iconic part of what makes New Orleans magical."

"What Mardi Gras is today, what our City is today, owes much to him and his imagination, his larger-than-life personality, and his relentless creativity," she said in a statement.

The pre-Lenten celebration has been big for generations in the riverside city, but in 1947 Kern founded Kern Studios, which constructed elaborate floats that helped distinguish New Orleans' Mardi Gras festivities from others. Innovations including double-decker floats helped create a spectacle that draws huge crowds every year.

"Everybody's got a big grin on their face, everybody's smiling and shouting and having fun, so I figure I'm bringing joy and fun to millions of people," Kern said in an interview with WWL-TV in 1997.

Kern, the son of a sign painter, grew up poor on Algiers Point across the Mississippi River from the city's famed French Quarter.

"It would not be an exaggeration to declare Blaine Kern as one of the most significant individuals in the entire history of the celebration of Mardi Gras," Arthur Hardy, publisher of the definitive "Mardi Gras Guide," told nola.com.

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2005 file photo, Blaine Kern, Sr., also known as "Mr. Mardi Gras," looks over the damage by Hurricane Katrina to one of his warehouses at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. The man known as “Mr. Mardi Gras" for helping to convert the annual pre-Lenten celebration into a giant event in New Orleans has died. News outlets report that Blaine Kern Sr. died Thursday, June 25, 2020. For decades, Kern's work helped boost New Orleans' Carnival.   (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2005 file photo, Blaine Kern, Sr., also known as "Mr. Mardi Gras," looks over the damage by Hurricane Katrina to one of his warehouses at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. The man known as “Mr. Mardi Gras" for helping to convert the annual pre-Lenten celebration into a giant event in New Orleans has died. News outlets report that Blaine Kern Sr. died Thursday, June 25, 2020. For decades, Kern's work helped boost New Orleans' Carnival. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2007 file photo, Blaine Kern, Sr. poses for a photograph with some of the creations he built for Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans.  The man known as “Mr. Mardi Gras" for helping to convert the annual pre-Lenten celebration into a giant event in New Orleans has died. News outlets report that Blaine Kern Sr. died Thursday, June 25, 2020. For decades, Kern's work helped boost New Orleans' Carnival.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2007 file photo, Blaine Kern, Sr. poses for a photograph with some of the creations he built for Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans. The man known as “Mr. Mardi Gras" for helping to convert the annual pre-Lenten celebration into a giant event in New Orleans has died. News outlets report that Blaine Kern Sr. died Thursday, June 25, 2020. For decades, Kern's work helped boost New Orleans' Carnival. (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)
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