Trade Resources Industry Views Mardi Gras Magic Is Shared by Elation, Acclaim and ADJ

Mardi Gras Magic Is Shared by Elation, Acclaim and ADJ

USA - Even at the supreme event of the biggest celebration in a city known for its huge excesses, the Ponchartrain Beach float takes bigness to new heights - or lengths. At 330'long, this tribute to the Big Easy's legendary Ponchartrain Beach amusement park is clearly the largest float ever seen in a Mardi Gras parade. Debuting at Endymion, Mardi Gras' premier event, the float is comprised of nine individual cars, each replicating a different historic carnival ride or attraction featured at Ponchartrain Beach, which closed in 1983.

The city's newspaper The New Orleans Picayune declared the float to be the best in the parade, noting that it was "indeed impressive, both for its size and the light display, which bathed the crowd in glorious color." Ray Ziegler of RZi Lighting (New Orleans) used a variety of products from Elation Professional, Acclaim Lighting and ADJ to create the lighting design.

Ziegler, who was brought on board by the float's designer Royal Productions (New Orleans), recounted how this impressive project got started. "Randy Gervais of Royal Productions brought us in to do the lighting, since we have done large projects with them in the past. We normally do stage and theatrical lighting, so creating a design for a parade float was different for us, which made it challenging and a lot of fun!

"As the project progressed, we worked closely with Kern Studios, the end client, to bring their artists' renderings to life. Working with Kern was exciting because they had a very precise idea of what they wanted to see. We had daily meetings to get feedback and suggestions from them. In the end, it was a team effort. Skip Stander and Barry Kern of Kern Studios and Nolan Beaver our lighting programmer were vital to making this happen."

One look at the passing float with its array of synchronized lighting on nine different cars would be enough to convince anyone that the team at Kern and RZi met the challenge of creating the world's largest parade float with flying colours.

From the Elation ELAR 216 RGBW Panels used to illuminate the front of a classic Zephyr roller coaster cars on one float, to the Elation ELAR 72 UV Pars used to add glow to skulls in the haunted house section of the float, to the Acclaim X Tube 500s used to create a sense of movement on the roller coaster displays, the lights not only created eye-popping visuals, they also contributed to the story line of the massive float.

The theme of the float was Then and Now," explained Ziegler. The idea was to show the rich history of the Ponchartrain Beach, amusement park, a landmark on the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain that thrilled locals with wild rides, theme restaurants and big name acts like Elvis Presley during its 55 year history (1928-1983). Sections of the long float paid tribute to the amusement park's icons like the Zephyr and Wild Maus roller coasters, the carousel, the haunted house and the famous beach with its "bathing beauties."

At the same time, however, the float's designers also wanted to transport the long gone Ponchartrain Beach into the future, by giving the classic displays a vibrant 2013 look. Ziegler and his team accomplished this through the artful use of LED lighting.

"Our vision was to create something different -- something people hadn't seen before," said Ziegler. "We wanted to show an old-style amusement park-but at the same time, we also wanted to give it new updated look. So we decided we would bring in a lot of the pixel tape and lot of the Elation, Acclaim and ADJ LED products. We mixed these products with a lot of rope light from the bygone era, so if you look at certain scenes it looks like they were built in the 1930s, then when you activate the LED lighting it makes it look like 2013."

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Elation, Acclaim and ADJ Share Mardi Gras Magic
Topics: Lighting