BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s an opportunity many dream of, to be crowned with jewels and adorned in splendor, but only a few have the distinct privilege of serving as King D’Iberville and Queen Ixolib.
As the excitement grows for the Gulf Coast Carnival Association’s big parade, many are anxious to know: who will reign over this year’s festivities?
The wait is finally over. This year’s royal duo: King John Atherton and Queen Abbie Brashier.
“When they approached me, the first words out of my mouth was how could I turn this down?” Atherton said.
“I’m so honored to be serving the Gulf Coast community as this role and I look forward to it," Brashier said.
Both have a long family history with the Gulf Coast Carnival Association. Brashier’s great aunt served as Queen Ixolib in 1927. Her cousins served as Queen in 2009 and 2013, and her uncle served as king in 2003.
“Mardi Gras growing up on the Gulf Coast has always been such an important part of my life. My family, we have a long tradition, and I guess legacy in it, so it’s exciting to follow in the footsteps of my cousins, and my great aunt,” said Brashier.
It’s a legacy the Biloxi High graduate and University of Mississippi senior is proud to continue.
“It’s just the memories, the lasting friendships you make, it really is different from anything else, the bonds and relationships you form through this process," she said.
Atherton is now president of Waypoint Incorpated after retiring from Mississippi Power with more than 30 years of service.
His family also has deep roots in GCCA.
“We’ve spent being involved in various krewes, and it’s been quite a tradition. We think it’s upholding our heritage to be a part of Mardi Gras," he said.
He follows in the footsteps of his daughter - who served as queen in 2017.
“She set quite a pace for me to catch up to," he laughed.
Now, with their sights set on Monday’s Coronation Ball and Fat Tuesday, the two are ready for the experience of a lifetime.
“The community coming together to celebrate this time of the year is a special thing and I’m glad to be a part of it," Atherton said.
“Having this opportunity, being able to perform this role, is such an honor and so exciting, it’s something I dreamed of my whole life," Brashier said.
The Gulf Coast Carnival Association Coronation ball is Monday at 8 p.m. at the Coast Coliseum.