NEW ORLEANS — Ed Muniz, the founder of the Krewe of Endymion and former Mayor of Kenner, passed away Saturday morning at the age of 83.
Muniz began his career in radio. He spent decades buying and selling stations in the Metro area and beyond, at one point managing broadcasts in six states. During this time, his lifelong love of Carnival drove him to organize a small neighborhood parade in Gentilly.
It wouldn't stay small for long.
The Krewe of Endymion rolled for the first time in 1967. Within years, it outgrew its small Gentilly route. Over the coming decades, it would become one of the biggest parades in New Orleans.
Those who knew Muniz say Endymion owes its success to his passion for Carnival and relentless drive to improve. "He just kept looking ahead and looking ahead and wanted it bigger and better," said Jim Hanzo, Muniz's son-in-law who worked alongside him for many years. "He was always thinking, always moving." Dan Kelly, current President of the Krewe of Endymion, described that "no matter how good Endymion was in the previous year, we always were sitting there going 'what can we do to make it better?'"
Of course, a little healthy competition always helps. One year after the first Endymion parade rolled, Owen "Pip" Brennan Jr. founded the Krewe of Bacchus. Although they are now well-established as the city's twin "super krewes," the two parades were very different at first. WWL-TV Political Analyst Clancy Dubos explained that Endymion "grew from its humble beginnings as a neighborhood krewe, as opposed to Bacchus which started kind of as a big splashy krewe."
Bacchus showed Muniz what his small parade could become. "I think that he understood that he needed to compete," said Barry Kern, President & CEO of Kern Studios. "So basically, those two organizations had what I would call a friendly arms race for the next 50 years."
In 1980, Muniz turned his attention to politics. He was elected to Kenner City Council, then Jefferson Parish Council, and finally, years later, as Mayor of Kenner for one term. "To his credit," said Dubos, "he always served honorably. There was never a scandal associated with Ed Muniz."
Even after retiring from politics, Muniz continued to be involved in Endymion until his death. By coincidence, loved ones and fans can now pay their respects at a brand-new tribute to Muniz. A week before his death, the Krewe of Endymion unveiled the "Endymion Garden" on the campus of Delgado Community College. At the center is a bronze statue of Muniz holding hands with "Endymion Man," the Krewe's cartoon mascot.
Ed Muniz is survived by his wife of 58 years, their three daughters, and four grandchildren.
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