Kern was known throughout New Orleans as “Mr. Mardi Gras” for his elaborate floats, and earned an international reputation for his designs.
He grew up during the Great Depression as an artist, along with his father, Roy, who earned a living painting barges at the Port of New Orleans.
He founded Kern Studios in 1947 after painting a mural that caught the eye of a surgeon, according the company’s website.
The surgeon was the captain of Mardi Gras Krewe Alla and invited Blaine and his father to design and build their floats.
After establishing his company, Kern worked as an apprentice in Europe learning how to design and create floats and costumes.
He later expanded his studio to include Mardi Gras World, located at 1380 Port of New Orleans Place, where floats are built.
The warehouse because a tourist attraction in 1984, giving tours to sightseers, and quadrupled in size to 300,000 square feet in 2008.
The same year, Kern founded the Krewe of Boo, the city’s annual Halloween parade.