On Feb. 10, she filled one of the most coveted Mardi Gras roles in a city that hosts one of the world’s premier revelries before the start of the Lenten season.
She had dreamed of being Endymion queen since middle school, when she applied to wear the crown. “I checked every year to make sure I was still on the list,” she said with a laugh.
“There’s nothing to really compare it to,” said Autin, a 21-year-old from Galliano, La., a small town south of New Orleans.
After beginning her big day dressed in blue jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, she received royal treatment. She had her hair and makeup done at the Hyatt Regency Hotel early that morning. She was then ferried to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to find her gown, which was hanging in a Tulane University football locker room, along with the gowns of her four-maid court.
Autin’s gown was encrusted with silver and black rhinestones. Her crown was fronted with her initials – HJA for Hannah June Autin – and a representation of her beloved pet dog, a Goldendoodle named Zoe. The initials were also featured on Autin’s beads, which were thrown from the queen’s float.
Once her transformation from college student to queen was complete, Autin joined krewe members and their families at a Catholic Mass inside the Superdome. It was led by the Most Rev. Gregory Aymond, archbishop of New Orleans. The solemnity of the service was infused with touches of Mardi Gras excitement. One of the priests reminded krewe members who would be riding on floats to be considerate of spectators. “Throw beads to them, not at them,” he advised.