Sunday, February 10, 2013

Endymion's Pontchartrain Beach Float Impressed Me (Video)

Endymion's Pontchartrain Beach float is soooo long that it couldn't make a corner turn. The Krewe of Endymion debuted its massive Pontchartrain Beach float at its 2013 parade, three days before Mardi Gras.

The float has multiple cars, is 375 feet long, and holds at least 230 riders, and it pays tribute to a local amusement park that closed in 1983. The cars represent different attractions and memorable rides at the park, as well as its clown and lighthouse.

The float stalled for a while, as you can see on the first video, because it could not make the turn on Orleans and Carrollton avenues in Mid-City. Two or three of the cars had to be separated and moved by themselves around the corner. In addition to a host of programmable colored lights, the float plays music and releases scented air that smells like popcorn, cotton candy, and someone said "hamburgers" too. The Haunted House car of the float and the Wild Maus brought back some memories for me. I remember that skeleton that appeared to climb out of the top of the building and now appears to climb out of the float.

As you'll hear from a conversation I had with a man more than 10 years older than I, this float brought back childhood memories. You can't see him on the video, but he's white, and I am black. He was a complete stranger to me, but started a conversation. It says something that we discussed Pontchartrain Beach memories together.

Pontchartrain Beach, which opened in the 1950s was segregated. African-Americans went to Lincoln Beach. So that's where I went until around age five. When Pontchartrain Beach was forced by law to integrate, Lincoln Beach closed down.

Also in this post, for those who did not grow up in New Orleans before the 1980s, I've embedded video of the old Pontchartrain Beach commercial. The Zephyr car at the beginning of the float represents the roller coaster most of us from that era loved to ride. You can see it in the commercial.

Finally, here is a slideshow of the renderings of the float from Kern Studios (float designers and builders). You can compare the drawings to the final product.

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