July: Pauline 'Ree' Johnson


Photo by Jeffrey David Ehrenreich
Photo by Jeffrey David Ehrenreich
Pauline "Queen Ree" Johnson has masked for 36 years. In 1977, her brother, David "Lightning" Johnson, who was flag boy for the Wild Magnolias, introduced her to "Lil Walter" Cook, Big Chief of the Creole Wild West gang. Queen Ree sewed her first suit and made her Mardi Gras debut in 1978.
Big Chief "Lil Walter" recognized Queen Ree's maturity and skills and appointed her "Big Queen," a title she continues to hold. "Big Queen Ree" has many responsibilities. She teaches the children to sew, to bead, and to use group signals most Saturdays at A.L. Davis Park. She has excellent listening skills, and serves as a peacekeeper among gang members, and she is the Big Chief's "right hand."  She parades at all "Super Sundays" and performs at Jazz Fest.
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