Krewe of Endymion cancels parade role for Mel Gibson, citing safety concerns and ‘threats’

Actor-director Mel Gibson, shown in this 2017 file photo, will join Tulane University football...
Actor-director Mel Gibson, shown in this 2017 file photo, will join Tulane University football coach Willie Fritz as co-Grand Marshals of the Krewe of Endymion's 2023 Mardi Gras parade, the organization announced late Saturday night (Jan. 7).(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 8:06 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2023 at 9:46 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Sixteen hours after announcing that actor-director Mel Gibson would join Tulane University football coach Willie Fritz as co-Grand Marshal of its 2023 Mardi Gras parade, the Krewe of Endymion rescinded the invitation Sunday (Jan. 8), citing safety concerns and threats.

“The Krewe of Endymion has received significant feedback about our grand marshal announcement,” Endymion president Dan Kelly said in a statement. “Some of this commentary included threats that cause us great concern.

“In the best interest of the safety of our riders, special guests and everyone that welcomes us on the streets, Mel Gibson will not ride as a co-Grand Marshal for our 2023 parade.”

Gibson’s role was unveiled late Saturday night at Endymion’s annual coronation ball. Attendees were told Gibson and Fritz would lead Endymion and its more than 3,000 riding members on its Carnival parade though Mid-City to the Morial Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Local Jewish leaders were outraged that Endymion had sought to celebrate Gibson, given the celebrity’s history of antisemitic and offensive remarks and outbursts. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Greater New Orleans Rabbinic Council issued a joined statement saying they were “appalled that Endymion chose Mel Gibson as the parade’s 2023 Grand Marshal to begin with.”

The statement said, “Mel Gibson has a long history of making antisemitic, racist and misogynistic slurs. While the actor has made half-hearted attempts to apologize for his remarks over the years, there is still a great deal of pain associated with his name and deep wounds in the Jewish community from those controversies, which may never heal. Given his history of fueling antisemitism and other forms of hate, we find his choice as Grand Marshal of Endymion was completely insulting and shortsighted.

“Although we are relieved he is no longer riding, we hope the Endymion leadership will take the opportunity to learn why the selection of Mel Gibson caused such pain and disappointment to the Jewish community, as well as the marginalized communities he has harmed in the past.”

The krewe did not immediately say whether it would seek a replacement for Gibson, or let Fritz serve alone as grand marshal. Last year, Endymion’s sole grand marshal was broadcaster Raymond Arroyo, news director and lead anchor of the Eternal Word Television Network and a frequent Fox News contributor.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the city in addressing the issues that will allow us to present another wonderful parade this year along our entire route,” Kelly said Sunday. “We will move forward with our final preparations in the coming weeks for the largest procession in Carnival.”

The theme of Endymion’s 57th annual parade is “Endymion Salutes the Poets.” Coverage of the parade will be carried live on Fox 8.

The inclusion of the 67-year-old Academy Award winner was a polarizing choice for many.

Gibson rose to fame as an actor in the “Mad Max” and “Lethal Weapon” franchises, and was awarded People magazine’s first-ever “Sexiest Man Alive” title in 1985. He won his first Best Director Oscar and a new level of cachet helming and starring in 1995′s Best Picture winner “Braveheart.”

But Gibson’s status in Hollywood declined with a series of controversies and legal troubles that included a misdemeanor domestic battery conviction, and statements in which he assailed Jews, homosexuals and used racial epithets.

Gibson apologized for many of the incidents and remarks, attributing some of his behavior to a history of alcohol abuse that he said dated to his early teens.

Fritz, 62, just completed his seventh season coaching the Green Wave, leading a remarkable turnaround from a 2-10 record in 2021 to a 12-2 season in 2022.

Tulane capped its magical season with a thrilling 46-45 comeback victory over USC in the Cotton Bowl, winning a game in which it trailed by 15 points with just 4:34 left to play.

Following the parade, the Endymion Extravaganza is scheduled at the Morial Convention Center, with musical guests Darius Rucker and Foreigner heading the bill.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Endymion Extravaganza, click here.

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