Massive Endymion float pays tribute to Pontchartrain Beach

Published: Jan. 3, 2013 at 10:15 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2013 at 10:10 PM CST
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The float is so large, it's difficult to even photograph the entire thing at once. (John Snell)
The float is so large, it's difficult to even photograph the entire thing at once. (John Snell)

This year's Endymion parade recreates a New Orleans landmark.   It leaves you kind of speechless.

Inside the Endymion den, krewe captain Ed Muniz and the krewe get ready to roll out an amusement park on wheels, called "Pontchartrain Beach, Then and Now."

At first, the plan was simply to recreate the park as it was, with today's lighting effects.

The float consists of nine units and nearly 300 riders, and it brings the beloved park, closed since 1983, back to life.  Among its rolling tributes, the park's signature ride, the Zephyr.

"The Zephyr was one of the great roller coasters in America," Muniz tells us.

It cost 20 cents to ride the Zephyr. And if you road it again, it was 15 cents.

Impressive as they are today, the floats are still under construction.  Two units have not been hooked up yet, and builders still have to hook up the computers that run the light show.

Another part of the massive float is the Wild Mouse. "That was a very controversial ride," Muniz tells us.  "They finally took it out of the park because rumor has it a lot of people were saying their neck got broken on the Wild Mouse."

Smoke and special effects strike your senses, including smell.  Muniz says, "We've got machines on the bottom of this thing that's going to put out the smell of cotton candy, of hamburgers with onions."

The complete float is longer than a football field, and it's no small trick just to turn the thing.  Float builder Barry Kern says cables in the articulated chassis turn the front and back wheels independently of one another.

Kern says, "It was not about making the biggest float. It was about creating Pontchartrain Beach."

The float will be pulled by an airport tug the kind of machine that would pull a 747.