Dominic Massa / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - Calling it the longest and one of the most spectacular floats in Carnival, leaders with the Krewe of Endymion on Thursday unveiled sketches for a new super float paying tribute to the former Pontchartrain Beach amusement park.
The “Pontchartrain Beach, Then and Now” float, which will be 330 feet long and capable of holding more than 230 riders, will make its debut in next year’s parade on Saturday, Feb. 9. Sketches of it were unveiled to krewe members and reporters Thursday at Mardi Gras World.
Krewe captain and founder Ed Muniz said that plans were originally for the float to debut in 2016 or 2017 for the krewe’s 50th anniversary, but that the timing of next year’s Carnival coinciding with the Super Bowl (Feb. 7, the weekend before Endymion) made for a better debut, with the media spotlight focused on the city.
Artists with Blaine Kern Studios designed and are building the new signature float, which president/CEO Barry Kern calls the most technologically-advanced float in history. “More planning went into this float than any other in the world,” Kern said. The float will remain a permanent fixture in the parade each year.
Different parts of the float, which is still being constructed, will highlight special memories of Pontchartrian Beach, the amusement park which closed in 1983. The Zephyr and Wild Maus roller coaster rides are featured, as well as the Haunted House and familiar lakefront lighthouse.
Pontchartrain Beach has special significance to Muniz since it is the spot where he met his future wife, Peggy.
Actor and businessman Bryan Batt, whose family owned and operated Pontchartrain Beach from its opening in 1928 until its closure said the family has worked closely with Endymion and Kern Studios on the designs.
"It's such an honor to have our family's longtime contribution to the fabric of New Orleans remembered in such a fun way," Batt told Eyewitness News. "Now the beach will be remembered every year with smiles and cheers from children of all ages."
“The Batt family is very flattered and honored that the Endymion Organization would recognize what Ponchatrain Beach meant to the community," said Jay Batt, a business owner and former New Orleans councilman.
The float will feature new turbo LED lighting bars, Kern said, which incorporate thousands of single LED bulbs wired together. They will help illustrate the amusement park’s features. The float is built on a chassis capable of holding more than 40 tons. Eleven tons of that will be reserved for the throws the riders bring on board. It has solid rubber tires to prevent flats, Kern said.
Each year, the friendly competition between super krewes, combined with the advancements in lighting, design and float-building technology, guarantees that Carnival crowds will be treated to an even bigger show on the streets. Endymion, founded by Muniz as a small neighborhood krewe in Gentilly, prides itself on its innovations and larger than life creations.
The overall theme of next year’s parade is “Ancient Mysteries,” with floats highlighting “Atlantis: Lost and Found,” “Dracula,” “Easter Island,” “Stonehenge,” and “The Trojan War.”
Officials announced that singer Kelly Clarkson will ride as Grand Marshall and perform at the Extravaganza, held inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Feb. 9, just one week after the Super Bowl is played there.