"We want the biggest and the best"
When the Krewe of Bacchus set-out to change the face of Carnival, they sought the talents of local artist and float builder Blaine Kern. Kern, the world renowned float builder and owner of "Mardi Gras World" in New Orleans eagerly rose to the task.
"We want the biggest. We want the best." It was almost a command. Nothing ordinary would do. And Blaine Kern listened intently. This was his chance. His dream. And it was all happening because a group of young turks wanted to revive the Carnival season.
"I was so excited I could hardly sit still," Kern recalls. "The directive was clear: build the biggest and best floats ever seen in New Orleans. I was being pushed to produce something really exceptional for a new Krewe called Bacchus. And I wanted to begin immediately."
Kern realized that the eager, youthful leaders meant business. They had the membership and the money to revolutionize float building in New Orleans. The only limit to their imagination was what the city's streets would accommodate.
"We told Blaine that we wanted something spectacular," recalls Owen "Pip" Brennan, Jr., Captain of Bacchus. "We had seen what was being done for other great parades such as the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl and Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and we wanted something just as great."
When Bacchus formed in 1968, Rex was setting the standard for Carnival floats. "Those floats were 26 to 28-feet long and nine-feet wide," Kern recalls. "They were beautiful but I knew that we were capable of building something bigger."
Once the procedural red tape had been dealt with and the necessary parade permits were obtained, Kern and his artist went straight to their drawing boards and began designing floats to follow the theme, "The Best Things in Life."
"The new floats were 34 - 38-feet long and 10 - to 11-feet wide," Kern recalls. "They were simply beautiful, each float had animated parts and fantastic lighting.
"Bacchus Fulfills Promise
with Big, Animated Floats"
The headline in the Times-Picayune told the full story on the Monday after the first parade: "Bacchus Fulfills Promise with Big, Animated Floats." "The first parade was a smashing success," Brennan relates. "The crowds along the parade route screamed their approval and the Krewe members were thrilled to be a part if such a history-making event."
Over the past three decades, all of the original Bacchus floats were replaced with bigger, more innovative, and more extravagant versions. Bacchus added six signature floats to the parade: King Kong, Queen Kong, Baby Kong, The Bacchasaurus, The Bacchagator, and the Bacchawhoppa. With the exception of these signature floats, all of the floats are redesigned, redecorated and hand-painted each year to depict the annual parade theme.