The Endymion parade will show up in Mid-City a bit earlier than usual this weekend. And the members of Kiss plan to ride in full costume, but not for the full route.
Given the rain-free forecast for the latter part of the week, Endymion officials will line up most of their massive floats on Marconi Drive and Orleans Avenue alongside City Park on Friday, the day before the parade rolls.
The staging area between Interstate 610 and City Park Avenue will be closed to the public starting at 8 a.m. Friday along Marconi, on the park side of the neutral ground. Orleans Avenue along the Delgado Community College side will close at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Endymion Vice President Darryl d'Aquin said moving the floats into position a day earlier than usual, before surrounding streets are choked with cars and crowds, should alleviate some logistical headaches.
“If we can get the bulk of them out there on Friday, we won’t be cutting it so close,” he said.
Can't see video below? Click here.
Fans hoping to see Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and the rest of Kiss in that staging area Saturday will be out of luck.
The musicians won’t be aboard their customized “celebrity guest float” when the parade begins rolling at 4:15 p.m. at City Park and Orleans avenues. Instead, they'll rendezvous with the float somewhere along Canal Street between Jefferson Davis Parkway and North Claiborne Avenue.
“It’s all based on their schedule,” d’Aquin said. “We don’t have an exact location."
Kiss, rapper Flo Rida and disco veterans KC and the Sunshine Band will perform at the post-parade Endymion Extravaganza in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday night.
Simmons and company are slated to arrive in New Orleans early Saturday morning. They’ll do a sound check at the Superdome, then spend the hours it takes to apply their stage makeup and elaborate costumes.
Whenever they’re ready Saturday evening, they’ll be whisked by police escort to wherever their designated float is along the parade route, then clamber aboard it in their 6-inch platform boots.
“It will be quite exciting for whoever is nearby as we get them on,” d’Aquin said. “I wish I could be there, but I’ll be on another float. Hopefully, the crowd will cooperate.”
Endymion, the largest krewe in Carnival, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. The parade is still led by its founder and captain, businessman and former Kenner Mayor Ed Muniz, who grew up in Gentilly as a Mardi Gras devotee.
With more than 3,000 members, an hours-long procession of marching bands and elaborate, multi-unit floats, and an annual operating budget of $7 million, it is a superkrewe in every sense.
The fact that it is the only major New Orleans parade not to follow the now-standard Uptown route reflects Muniz’s founding philosophy: His parade would value fun over formality, salt-of-the-earth types over scions of society. The Endymion Extravaganza is essentially a mass tailgate party for 20,000 people in formal wear.
The 2017 parade's theme is "The Constellations." Individual floats will depict celestial bodies.
Long before he won elections or struck it rich in radio, Ed Muniz was a good Catholic boy fr…
Kiss has a history with Endymion. The band members were slated to ride in 1979 but canceled after a New Orleans police strike forced Endymion to roll in Kenner. Still, Simmons, the band’s fire-breathing demon bassist, came to town and went to dinner with Muniz.
In 2005, Simmons rode in Endymion as a grand marshal while filming an episode of his reality show, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.”
Floats in Endymion’s 50th anniversary parade last year celebrated themes from past years. Statues of the four members of Kiss adorned a rock ’n’ roll-themed float that belched smoke.
Those same four statues have been moved to the “celebrity guest” float on which the real Kiss members will ride this year, at least for the latter part of the parade.
“On the early part of the route, they won’t be on,” d’Aquin said. “We want to get that out there so people aren’t disappointed.”
Once they’re aboard, the Kiss members will ride to the Superdome for a show that will be, in the literal sense, explosive.
“They have more pyro than we’ve ever seen” at the Extravaganza, d’Aquin said. “It’s quite a bit.”
Flo Rida and KC and the Sunshine Band plan to ride for the entire parade.
Flo Rida will be aboard the original Poppa Joe’s S.S. Endymion, the riverboat that made its debut in the 1970s as one of the first double-decker Carnival floats.
KC and the Sunshine Band will be on a flashy new “celebrity guest” float outfitted with two wrap-around video walls and a high-impact sound system.
Both Flo Rida and KC are also likely to make brief appearances onstage during the free Samedi Gras festival on the Orleans Avenue neutral ground Saturday afternoon before the parade.
Samedi Gras also will feature the local cover bands the Topcats, Groovy 7 and the Bucktown Allstars. But not Kiss.