An ancient Egyptian-style coffin that decorated the haunted house at Pontchartrain Beach, the former New Orleans amusement park.
A car that carried visitors through the haunted house.
Signs that hung at the amusement park, which opened in 1939 and closed in 1983.
Kenner has been keeping those and other pieces of Pontchartrain Beach memorabilia in storage for more than 20 years. Recently, officials decided to sell the items to somebody who had offered them $1,000, which the city was told was a fair price.
However, state law requires such property to be sold to the highest bidder, so Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s office published a news release Wednesday announcing that it would sell the Pontchartrain Beach memorabilia to the person offering $1,000 if no one else made a better offer by Oct. 8.
Plenty did. By Friday, 19 other would-be collectors had contacted the city about acquiring the memorabilia, and 10 of them put in formal offers.
Yenni’s office called off the Oct. 8 deadline and is now planning to hold an auction after taking inventory of exactly how many Pontchartrain Beach keepsakes the city possesses.
“There is an enormous level of interest in anything to do with Pontchartrain Beach,” Yenni said. “An auction is clearly the best way to proceed.”
No date has been set, but the city said it hopes to hold the sale before the end of the year.
Kenner acquired its various Pontchartrain Beach relics from the theme park’s owners, the Batt family, in the 1980s, when Aaron Broussard was the city’s mayor.
A couple of those mementos have long been on display in Kenner. The top piece of the Zephyr roller coaster as well as the sign above the entranceway to the Tiki-style Bali Ha’i at the Beach restaurant each ended up in Veterans Park next to City Hall.
Other items — a haunted-house car embraced by a ghost figure, a haunted-house sarcophagus, a papier-mâché elephant, light fixtures and signs — were stored in a photo booth in Veterans Park, Kenner Chief Administrative Officer Mike Quigley said.
Recently, a person Kenner officials would not identify expressed an interest in buying the items in storage. The city tentatively agreed to sell the memorabilia for $1,000 after officials consulted a licensed auctioneer.
But, to comply with a state law applying to surplus government property worth less than $5,000, Kenner officials needed to welcome other offers for the items and then sell them to the highest bidder.
Calls and emails came in steadily after the city said it would take offers until Oct. 8, after which the original bidder would have a chance to submit a final offer.
Enough people reached out that the city on Thursday decided it would be best to organize an official auction instead of sticking with the plan announced just a day earlier.
First, city workers will take stock of how many Pontchartrain Beach items Kenner has, and those items then will be appraised, Kenner spokesman Bob Ross said.
“It’s unclear how many items are involved, but there are additional pieces in storage in Veterans Park that were not originally requested,” Ross said.
He said the city would release more information — including photos — on all items that will be available in the auction after a date for it is set.
Meanwhile, officials of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, which now oversees the beach, signed an agreement earlier this year that would allow the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to reopen Pontchartrain Beach to the public, possibly this upcoming spring.
However, the beach won’t have a full-fledged amusement park, as it did when it closed more than 30 years ago.