The man behind the Krewe of Mid-City's magic

Krewe of Mid-City floats (Source: FOX 8 Photo)
Krewe of Mid-City floats (Source: FOX 8 Photo)

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - There are no teams of artists for the Krewe of Mid-City, it's just Ricardo Pustanio.

For the past 20 years, he's created each and every float you see in the parade.

"Well, as everybody else says, we got foil. I'd have to say that the foil is the most shining, out-of-the-ordinary aspect of Mardi Gras," said Pustanio.

Pustanio grew up in Mid-City and said that he's never missed the parade.

"I was standing on the side one time and I put my finger out to touch the foil and I cut my finger on the foil. I thought to myself then, oh I don't like this parade. Not too long after that, I found the den and that's when I started doing it. Betty Rae told me, 'See now you have Mid-City in your blood. It's never going to go away,'" said Pustanio.

He learned his craft from Betty Rae Kern, the sister of float artist Blaine Kern.

"Well we used to come through the neighborhood around Mid-City bowling alley, and she used to sell freezie cups out the back door. So we'd come up and she used to say, 'Do you all want to come in and give me a hand?' It would be everything from tearing foil off the floats to tearing a prop apart or something," said Pustanio.

The Krewe of Mid-City is known for its sparkling foil floats. Pustanio recycles what he can, but he says he still goes through a lot of foil every year.

"Each roll has 927 linear yards of foil on it. Sometimes I go through one to two rolls, depending on the float damage or trying to change the color of it," said Pustanio.

Anything paper mache is done first, and then he looks to see if he can take some props and reuse them.

What isn't reused is often displayed at the New Orleans Healing Center. The center even asked Pustanio to create a special Marie Laveau statue.

"As an artist you always want people to admire your work. I go over to the Healing Center and I see people praying to my work. It amazed me," said Pustanio.

But whether it's at the Healing Center or along the streets of New Orleans, where thousands of carnival fans get to see his creations, Pustanio hopes for one thing.

"I enjoy everything that I do and I want people to see that as well as experience it. For one instant coming down the street the Krewe of Mid-City takes away all of that and gives you a feeling of wow, I'm seeing something I've never seen before," said Pustanio.

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