NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Wearing a purple, green and gold dress with a plunging neckline and full skirt festooned in colorful Carnival masks, Barbie has arrived in New Orleans.
The famous doll posed for pictures at Cafe du Monde, on a cemetery tour, in Jackson Square by St. Louis Cathedral and with beads around her neck at a parade. The pictures are on display at the 2013 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention, which opened with a Mardi Gras-themed reception Wednesday night and continues through Saturday.
The event has brought hundreds of Barbie doll fans and collectors from across the U.S. to the city for festivities that include Barbie auctions, workshops and a fashion show.
"It's just something about Barbie and visiting with all the other people who have a love of Barbie like we do," said Sherry Bjorklund, a collector from Estelline, S.D., who enjoys traveling to Barbie conventions with her friends.
Bjorklund and two friends, all middle-aged, giggled as they swapped Barbie stories in their pink and black Barbie T-shirts with pink Barbie-themed Mardi Gras beads hanging around their necks.
"I grew up with Barbie," said Bjorklund, who got her first Tahitian swirl Barbie when she was 4. Now 51, Bjorklund owns about 2,000 dolls. "My first one is still my favorite. My brother did cut her hair when I was about 6 years old, but she's still my favorite Barbie."
The convention's exhibit space is full of vintage and modern Barbie dolls dressed in various swimwear and fashions.
The 50-plus-year-old Barbie doll, which stands 11.5-inches tall and has been everything from an astronaut to a NASCAR race car driver, is one of the best-known toys of all time with collectors and fans across the globe. Barbie can sell for as little as $10 at Wal-Mart or for thousands at auction.
"My passion runs deep," said Sandi Holder, a longtime collector who said she once paid $27,000 for a first-edition doll.
The Barbie line was launched in 1959 by the toy manufacturing company, Mattel, Inc.
"Barbie is everything," Holder said. "Barbie can be anything. She's had so many careers. She's even run for president."
While attendance to the convention was limited to 800 participants, the display area was scheduled to be open to the general public on Saturday.