Krantz Stable Updates
Mardi Gras 2005
- Published: February 16, 2005
- Written by Bryan Krantz
Morning rays of light bent softly around the plantation shutters of the darkened bedroom. From the hallway soft steps and the rustle of sequins on satin moved toward the bed. The sweet scent of "Eternity" signaled a feminine presence near before a dripping southern drawl mouthed the words, "good morning." My pleasure of returning the greeting was tempered by the dull ache of my shoulder and right arm from stiffness brought on by the delivery of more than 50 gross of Mardi Gras beads to the massive throngs in attendance of this year's Endymion Mardi Gras celebration. A quick glance at the clock on the nightstand showed it was 7:30 Sunday morning and the Endymion Parade and Extravaganza of 2005 were now history.
Less than 24 hours before several hundred riders and family were sitting at the pre-parade Catholic mass listening to the Captain of the Krewe remind the members of the don'ts of riding on a float. He properly admonishing the riders of potential revocation of their membership in the organization for certain mortal sins committed on the parade route. As his lecture wound down he asked those in attendance to remember the members who had passed away in recent years and give thought to their joy in support of the organization. It would have been impossible not to think about Mervin Muniz and Ray Beard. Mervin convinced me 15 years before to ride and take Ray's spot next to him. Mervin was the dean of racing secretaries of thoroughbred race tracks in the United States and a friend from childhood. Ray was a longtime employee of the racing office and a friend as well. Mervin's cousin Ed started the Endymion organization in the Gentilly neighborhood near the Fair Grounds. Many of the original members were race-trackers. In fact the parade in its early years lined up in the neighborhood and started its route down Gentilly Boulevard in front of the Fair Grounds. Employees, racing fans and horsemen would line the street to jump for beads and doubloon throws from the revelers on the floats. The route has moved away from the track but the roots of the organization are undeniable, right down to the name Endymion. Ed was inspired by an equine Endymion's win in the 1963 New Orleans Handicap to consider the name for his parade.
Endymion developed an end of the ride celebration which has come to be known as the Endymion Extravaganza. This event is attended by near 15,000 men and ladies in full formal attire. The extravaganza is, simply put, the world's largest winter formal event. Seeing those ladies diving for baubles in their floor length dresses is quite a sight. Added to the mayhem of the parade are major national music acts entertaining the guests until 4:00 in the morning. The Endymion Extravaganza has been Vickie's Mardi Gras highlight from the first year Mervin and I stood side by side on the float.
The usual routine for the parade has members of the organization report to the dome the morning of the ride between 11 and 12 o'clock. Members are bused to the staging area about 1:30 and the parade begins at approximately 4:30. If all goes well the first float enters the Superdome at 8:30 in the evening. One of the benefits of riding on the Captain's float and being the first in the Dome is to watch the rest of the parade come in and make the round through the Dome. The Extravaganza goers must be in the stadium by 7 o'clock the evening of the parade. Once dismounted from the float I can return to the seating area and enjoy the festivities with Vickie and our group gathered for the evening. The dancing, drinking and eating is in full swing before I can get to the table. My evening is almost over and theirs is just beginning. We make the rounds visiting with friends, catching throws, listen to the music and dance a dance or two. About midnight its time for me to say goodnight and leave the 12:00 to 4:00 shift to professionals.
Several years ago my creative wife began a new tradition, along the lines of the Saratoga summer social customs. After the music dies in the dome the group gets breakfast in the French Quarter and then heads to barn 4 at the Fair Grounds -- just in time to visit the very curious equine boarders in their stalls before the first set goes to the track. I hear it's a sight to behold -- formal gowns and tuxedos on the rail mixed with the others who make their living there watching the horses go by.
This year was extraordinary. Last year we traveled with Destiny Calls to Delta Downs in Vinton for a road win in the Delta Premier Night Distaff. The problem this year was Endymion night fell the same evening as the race. The Distaff race was scheduled for 8:42 Saturday evening and the captain's float pulled up the rear of the dome at 8:45. As the float paused to go in, the speed dial on my cell phone dialed Gary's number to see how the race went. Gary answered quickly and reported he was watching the race over the internet on streaming video. Just as the phone rang the screen froze with Destiny a length behind Legs O'Neal as the horses straightened down the backside from the clubhouse turn. Gary muttered obscenities as he went about refreshing the computer video browser. A brief pause of quiet and he announced #*@#! We won!!! Destiny Calls repeated the biggest moment we have had as horse breeders and owners and Endymion had arrived at its apex at the same moment. Cell phones began to ring as the word of the win got out. Vickie made sure the word was spread in the Dome. This created major interest in the after the party visit to the barn. Destiny would arrive back from Vinton by 3 a.m. Peppermints were collected from the garnish of sandwich trays along with the carrot sticks no one ever eats as treats for the returning Delta Distaff champion. What a night!
Good morning my love. How was your evening? Did Destiny like her peppermints?