Sad news emerged out of Louisiana this weekend when it was announced that Ed Muniz, former Republican mayor of Kenner and celebrated founder of the Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras organization, died at the age of 83, according to NOLA.com.
Muniz' death was confirmed on Saturday by Endymion's current president, Dan Kelly, as local Fox affiliate station WVUE reported, and it was said to have followed several years of dementia and generally declining health.
Though Muniz enjoyed a long and varied career in broadcasting and politics, he was perhaps best known in the greater New Orleans area for his founding role with the famed Krewe of Endymion, which has grown into the town's largest Carnival-related organization.
Originating back in 1966, the Krewe now boats over 3,100 riders on a series of flamboyant Mardi Gras floats, and has since gained “super-parade” status, according to NOLA.com.
Muniz's involvement with Carnival began with a humble $45 payment to ride with the Krewe of Thoth following his graduation from high school, and he subsequently went on to build one of the most prolific Carnival groups in the region, which hosted its own hours-long procession incorporating marching bands and an extensive collection of floats as well as a massive post-parade tailgate party, all operated on a multi-million-dollar budget.
As Arthur Hardy, publisher of the Mardi Gras guide once explained, “The transformation of Endymion from an ordinary neighborhood parade into an extraordinary super-parade is the result of pure genius, the genius of one Edmond Muniz. It would not be an exaggeration to declare him one of the most significant figures in the history of Mardi Gras.”
Not only was Muniz a beloved New Orleans figure for his role in building the Krewe of Endymion, but he also gained notoriety for his success in the radio industry.
Starting out as an advertising salesman for local stations, Muniz went on to own a series of small-market outlets across the region, ultimately selling several of them in order to focus on two large stations in the Big Easy, WLTS-FM Lite 105 and WTKL-FM Kool 95.7, as NOLA.com noted.
Though he regularly received buyout offers from large media conglomerates over the years, it was not until 2000 that he decided to sell, reportedly reaping millions of dollars from the transactions.
As if he was not busy enough, Muniz was also active in local politics in the Jefferson Parish area, serving seven years as a member of the Kenner City Council, 17 on the Jefferson Parish Council, followed by a successful run to become Kenner's mayor.
Darryl d'Aquin, Muniz's son-in-law, issued a statement Saturday that read, “Our family's hearts are broken by the loss of this incredible man, who always had a vision in whatever he did.”
“His love of broadcasting, politics and Mardis Gras only pales in comparison to the love he had for his family and his wife of 58 years, Peggy,” d'Aquin continued.
Kyle France, chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District joined in praising Muniz, saying, “The Endymion parade ending inside Caesar's Superdome and the Extravaganza party that followed has had a major impact on Mardis Gras in New Orleans. He will be greatly missed, and our deepest condolences to the Muniz family.”
In addition to a grateful community of Mardi Gras revelers left to remember his massive contributions to the region's glorious traditions, Muniz is survived by his wife, Peggy, three daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.