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February 17, 2015

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New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade Schedule 2015

The Elizabethan playwright, John Lyly, penned a play entitled "Endymion, the Man in the Moone." Benjamin Disraeli, in a political novel, named his hero Endymion Farras.

None of these great authors had a New Orleans Carnival krewe in mind when their works were authored, yet a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow entitled "Endymion" almost seems to hint at things to come in the Crescent City:

History of the Krewe of Endymion

The area near the Fairgrounds Race Course in Gentilly, which would serve as Endymion's spawning ground, was a special one for Ed Muniz. He grew up in the shadows of the Track. When he married, he located his family in the neighborhood. Ed's parents' home at 2816 D'Abadie Street would serve as headquarters and distribution center for his Gentilly Carnival Club (the charter name for the Krewe of Endymion). And in addition, Ed Muniz would one day own a radio station housed a few dozen feet from the Race Track.

The ladies' Krewe of Adonis occupied the Saturday night before Mardi Gras on the parade calendar from 1954 until 1964 when it ceased operations. It seemed odd not to have a parade to attend that crisp Saturday evening in 1965. So, as he sat on his porch on DeSaix Boulevard, a young Ed Muniz dreamed of filling the evening with a new parade. His love for Mardi Gras ran deep. He had ridden as a substitute in the 1958 Babylon parade and loved the experience. As a former member of the Krewe of Thoth, (he quit when he couldn't afford their dues and his new bride), Mardi Gras parades were in his blood. Actually, the dream of captaining a krewe started much earlier, when an even younger Muniz constructed a miniature parade in his parents' home in Gentilly. (The front room was the parade's formation area, the next room represented Gallier Hall and the Kitchen was Canal Street.) Later, sitting on the swings at Stallings Playground on Gentilly Boulevard, Muniz watched Public Service trucks pass on their way to the N.O.P.S.I. yard. He fantasized that they were actually leading a parade.

One day, he thought, it would be his parade that others would be watching.

However, several obstacles almost side tracked the dream. When he was unable to assemble enough members to form a krewe for the 1966 season, Ed thought about joining another new club that was organizing for that year. Stories circulated that the krewe of Pegasus would roll in Muniz's beloved Gentilly, possibly on Saturday night. But when Pegasus announced that its maiden voyage would be held on Tuesday evening, traveling on a different route, Muniz realized that his dream of a Saturday night parade would go unfulfilled-unless, that is, he personally did something about it.

Ed's trip to the library to look up a mythological name for his new club finally narrowed down to two choices-Endymion and Bacchus. (Ironically, another group would select the latter name and start a club of their own three years later.) When Ed cashed the winning ticket at the Fairgrounds on a horse named Endymion, however, the choice was made for him. Fate had deemed it-the Gentilly Carnival Club would parade under the title of the Krewe of Endymion.

After an organizational meeting with nine other men, Ed pressed ahead for the 1967 season. Slowly-too slowly for Muniz-members started joining the new Krewe of Endymion which had been granted a Saturday night parade permit. With only about 50 members in the fold, a "make-it-or-break-it" meeting was scheduled for May 3, 1966, at the fledgling club's gathering spot, Watkins Catering Service on North Broad and Desoto Streets. Just four hours before the meeting was to begin, Watkins burned to the ground! After an emergency call to Msgr. Edward Prendergast (now deceased), former pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church, the krewe was allowed to meet in the parish hall on Bayou Road and North Broad Street. (It was the first time in the parish's history that a non church- related group was permitted to meet there.) Muniz posted two members outside Watkins Catering Service to direct potential members to the new meeting spot. That eventful evening, 70 members signed-up and the new krewe had begun in earnest.

From the start, the Krewe of Carrollton's Captain, John Ackermann, became Endymion's guardian angel. Virtually everything Endymion was created its first year, from the krewe's charter to the format of its printed ball program, was patterned after the Krewe of Carrollton. Ackermann rented Endymion 16 floats for the total sum of $5,000. He also introduced Muniz to Brigadier General Harry Mendelson, Sr., who signed a three-year contract to provide bands for Endymion. After his passing, Musette Mendelson Gonzales, the General's daughter, assumed the job and remains, as the driving force in obtaining the superior bands and marching units that are featured in each Endymion parade.

As a former promoter of teenage dances and as a man who made his living selling advertising, Muniz was keenly aware of how to market a product. He decided to invite politicians and media personalities to appear in the parade, knowing that these influential people would be talking about Endymion before and after the event. Muniz did everything he could think of to carry out the new krewe's philosophy, "If it creates conversation and excitement, let's do it!"

Krewe of Endymion's original route in Gentilly

 

The Krewe of Endymion's First Parade

The weather was a real concern the first weekend in February, 1967. It rained the day before Endymion's first pardae and the day after. But all was clear on parade day, and after the men enjoyed a luncheon at the Vista Shores Country Club, they drove to the Jung Hotel where they dressed and were then bussed to the formation area along Trafalgar Street in Gentilly.

As the 6:30 p.m. step-off time neared, the Captain became worried. His flare-carriers had not reported, and the crowds were very thin at the parade's starting point on DeSaix and Trafalgar adjacent to the Fairgrounds. Pre-parade newspaper coverage had been limited to brief mentions in columns by Tommy Griffin, Maud O'Bryan and Pie Dufour, and Muniz worried that rumors claiming Endymion was really just another truck parade or kiddie krewe might have diminished the crowd and killed his parade. The Captain breathed a sigh of relief, however, when a message relayed by a motorcycle policeman'swalkie-talkie revealed that the torch-bearers and the crowds were out in full force. They were waiting for the parade six blocks up the street, at DeSaix Circle-the location incorrectly published as Endymion's starting point!

That eventful evening February 4, 1967, with 155 men aboard 16 Carrolton floats, the krewe presented its very first parade, TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME. Major league teams such as Boston Patriots, the Houston Astros, and the Los Angeles Dodgers were depicted. The final float saluted the New Orleans Saints, a team that had yet to play its first game. The procession featured 68 units, including the famed Olympia Brass Band which preceded the Captain's car. The dukes and officers rode in convertibles and a special car carried gifts for the Milne Girls' Home for Retarded Orphans, then located on the corner of DeSaix Gentilly Boulevards. To help establish an identity, the crew hired high stepping cheerleaders to carry signs that spelled out "E-N-D-Y-M-I-O-N 1-9-6-7." Ridging as guests of the krewe were popular Tulane University football coach, Jim Pittman, and star of the Houston Astros, New Orleans' own, Rusty Staub. Local television and newspaper personalities, Wayne Mack, Buddy Diliberto and Art Burke also rode in the parade.

Endymion decided to call its doubloons "tokens of youth" and 100,000 gold anodized coins bearing the likeness of Babe Ruth were tossed.

Endymion's inaugural ball was planned as an informal tableau presentation and supper dance where Harry P. Rosenthal, Endymion I, Toasted His Queen, Mrs. Eliska Rosenthal. The event was held in the Hall of the Americas in the Jung Hotel, immediately following the parade. The next morning, the society section of the Times-Picayune, under the banner, "Endymion Krewe Newcomer to Gala," proclaimed " A lusty and beautiful baby was born to the Carnival festivities Saturday night when the Krewe of Endymion presented its first Carnival ball." The dukes of the court saluted gridiron colors of Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Alabama, LSU, Florida, Notre Dame, Loyola, and Tulane, while the maids portrayed the homecoming courts.

The ball was declared a success and apparently so was the parade that preceded it. For early on Sunday morning, Joe Muniz, Ed's father and co-founder of the krewe, called to say that his telephone was ringing off the hook. The whole neighborhood wanted to join Endymion!

Krewe of Endymion Past Monarchs and Themes
1967
"Take Me Out To the Ball Game"
Harry P. Rosenthal
Mrs. Harry P. Rosenthal

1968
"Highlights Of The Silver Screen"
Henry P. Lusse
Janice Marie Assunto

1969
"Music…And That Reminds Me"
Salvatore Caserta
Beverly Mary Christina

1970
"Kingdoms Revisited"
Lawrence J. Rouse
Diana Lee Bordelon

1971
"N.O., America’s Most Interesting City"
Alphonse Maenza
Lucille Ann Surgi

1972
"Fables and Folklore"
John A. Gereighty
Joni Leigh Centanni

1973
"Golden Reflections"
Roland Dobson
Lucy Ellen Vesich

1974
"Endymion Salutes The Ladies"
William Kent Dupre
Judy Lee Behler
Doc Severinsen

1975
"America Celebrates"
William R. Nichols
Cheryl M. Pendergast
Dyan Cannon, Bobby Vinton

1976
"Hail To The Chiefs"
Irving Wallace
Lisa Anne Phillips
Alice Cooper, Wolfman Jack, Jerry Vale

1977
"It’s A Small World"
Edward J. Corcoran
Rhonda Shear
Gino Vanelli, Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Vikki Carr

1978
"The Superstars"
Frank D’Amico
Tianne Dimitri
Cheryl Ladd, Wayne Newton, Fats Domino

1979
"Endymion, A Thing of Beauty"
Tom Delatte
Sandy Rita Brett
Charo, K.C. & Sunshine

1980
"Broadway On Parade"
Salvadore Pardo
Rhonda Ann Fox
Engelbert Humperdink

1981
"Heartbeat of America"
George Hesni
Robyn Mary Orgeron
Neil Sedaka, Suzanne Somers

1982
"Literary Treasures"
Philip Accardo
Sandy Dimitri
Captain & Tenille, Kool & Gang

1983
"Myths And Legends"
Stanford Rankins Jr.
Bonnie Brett
Lou Rawls, Crystal Gayle, Kool & Gang, Doc Severinsen

1984
"It Was A Very Good Year"
Joseph D. Medina Jr.
Mary Elizabeth Muniz
Tom Jones, Kool & Gang, Fats Domino, Doc Severinsen

1985
"Come To The Mardi Gras"
Edward L. Martina Jr.
Kelly Quaid Flick
Wayne Newton, Fats Domino, Melissa Manchester

1986
"What Might Have Been"
Frank Meduna III
Michelle Louise Muniz
Paul Anka

1987
"I’d Rather Be…"
Burton Himbert Jr.
Leanne Quaid Flick
Kirk Cameron, Jeremy Miller, Tracey Gold

1988
"New Orleans, This Is Your Life"
Lawrence R. Holmes
Phyllis Anne Accardo
Dolly Parton, Heather Locklear, Roy Orbison, Smokey Robinson, Spuds McKenzie, Miami Sound

1989
"They Changed The World"
Donald Broussard
Dina Ann Dimitri
Fred Savage, Hall & Oates

1990
"Saturday Night At The Movies"
David C. Johnson
Maria Ktistakis
John Goodman, Chicago Four Tops

1991
"Silver Memories"
Robert T. Reynolds
Margie Muniz
Michael Bolton

1992
"The World’s Greatest Mysteries"
Dr. Jeff T. Jones
Kimberly Ann Ello
Ken Rogers, Patrick Duffy

1993
"Flights Of Fantasy"
Bradley W. Butler
Cynthia Alana Benbow
Steven Seagal, Beach Boys

1994
"Endymion’s Rockumentary"
Vern Cavalier
Shannon Kelly
Stephen Stills, Jeannie Cooper, Corbin Bernsen, Frankie Valli

1995
"Creature Features"
William Robinson
Danica Collen Benbow
Chuck Norris, Huey Lewis, K.C. & Sunshine, Richard Karn

1996
"Master Storytellers"
Roy Cascio
Kristi Lamarque
Kool & Gang, Johnathan Silverman, Donna Summer

1997
"Les Festivals Internationale"
Nathan J. Galland
Catherine M. O’Gorman
David Schwimmer

1998
"Biographies"
Thomas L.Tompson
Katherine M. Kleinpeter
Jerry Springer, Jack Wagner, Ian Ziering, K.C. & Sunshine Band

1999
"Mardi Gras From The Beginning"
Robert Guillot
Emily Lee McMakin
Emeril Lagasse

2000
"At Home In The Dome"
Howard Raymond
Bridget C. Loehn
Britney Spears

2001
"A Space Odyssey- Mankind’s Journey Into Space"
Joseph A. Marino III
Elise Marie McDonald
Frankie Muniz

2002
"Masquerade"
Alfred R. Padilla
Katrina Ann Clarkson
Jason Alexander

2003
"New Orleans from A to Z"
Patrick Nunez
Kathryn Elizabeth Rittiner
Aaron Carter
Photos

2004
"Saturday Night at the Movies"
The Sequel
David L. Goodson
Megan Elise Giardina
LeAnn Rimes

2005
"Endymion's Mythological Menagerie"
Harry C. Meisel
Christine Victoria Citron
Marissa Tomei, Gene Simmons, Hootie and the Blowfish, & Pointer Sisters

2006
"Legends & Lure of Gold"
Dr. Kevin Jeansome
Mariesa Lee
Retif Barbara
Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, The Commodores


2007
"Endangered & Extinct Species"
James B. Lefebvre
Virginia Lizbeth Cooney
Taylor Hicks, Styx,
Al Green & Journey

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