THE ICON: Harry Batt Sr.
THE LEGACY: Harry Batt Sr. was in the smile business, and it was a role he eagerly embraced, as the man behind New Orleans’ gone-but-certainly-not-forgotten Pontchartrain Beach amusement park. During the park’s off-season, he traveled the world to find new rides and attractions for his lakefront wonderland, whether it was the sky-high Zephyr roller coaster, the nerve-jangling Wild Maus or the exotic Bali Ha’i at the Beach restaurant and tiki bar. And every summer from 1928 to 1983, it reopened, always delivering something new to delight New Orleanians. Even when he wasn’t focusing on “the Beach,” Batt still found a way to spread smiles, such as his donation that built City Park’s Storyland play area in 1956 or through his role in the founding of the New Orleans Recreation Department — all of which helped make Batt the city’s unofficial minister of mirth for generations.
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok
THE INSPIRATION: “He was a visionary. In this city, with jazz and Mardi Gras and all that stuff, to come up with this concept of family entertainment — a park and beach on the lake — he was very forward-thinking.” — Bryan Batt, actor and grandson of Harry Batt Sr., in a 2016 interview with The Times-Picayune