Mirror, mirror on the float ... The Mardi Gras 2015 Endymion parade was coming to a close on Saturday (Feb. 14). Thirty-four gigantic floats had rumbled through the army of onlookers along Orleans Avenue near North Alexander Street. The enormous crowd sparkled with the super krewe's generous dispersal of lighted throws and reflective beads. But Endymion still had one more treat in store.
Float number 35 was untraditional. Instead of an upper tier of masked riders, the float bore two sports stadium-style video screens that reflected the image of the crowd like enormous mirrors. When parade goers caught sight of themselves on the traveling screens they waved and shouted wildly as the light from the float illuminated their faces.
In a pre-parade interview, Endymion captain Ed Muniz said the idea came to him during a visit to Times Square in New York where he saw live images of the crowd splashed on huge video screens on the sides of buildings.
"Everybody wants to see themselves on television," Muniz said, thereby explaining the float's title "ETV."
The float, which was built by Kern studios, is a brilliant 21st century Carnival innovation -- not because of the digital technology involved, which has long been available for decades, but because it so perfectly expressed the era of the 'selfie.'
In the late afternoon, as the parade began, the ETV float stood on the edge of City Park awaiting it's time to join the long train of floats that would precede it. Two costumed videographers, perched at the front of the top-front of the float, ate pre-parade sandwiches and experimented with their swiveling cameras.
As the streetscape suddenly appeared on the big screens, passersby immediately began mugging and vamping. Naturally, many reached for their cell phones to photograph or videotape themselves being photographed or videoed.
Artist Andy Warhol famously wrote, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." The ETV float might have passed a bit quicker than that, and Orleans Avenue might not be the whole wide world, but details aside, on Saturday Endymion helped deliver the future. On Saturday the roles of rider and parade watcher momentarily reversed.
On Saturday everyone rode with Endymion.
Hail Endymion! Is the ETV float the float of Mardi Gras 2015?
Note: It's a comment on the current selfie zeitgeist that the micro 'tit Rex parade also included a high-tech selfie float titled the "Tweenrex" that allowed guests to pose for selfies with a miniature dinosaur that was the product of 3-D digital printing. The self-portrait photos were then automatically posted to Twitter at @tweenrex. Check it out.
Another note: If you got a photo of yourself on the big screen of the ETV float and you'd like to see it on NOLA.com, please post it in the comments stream below, or email it my way and I'll add it to a photo gallery: firstname.lastname@example.org.