The Family Behind The Kraken House In New Orleans
It’s safe to say that unless you live under a rock here in NOLA, you’ve heard of THE Kraken House. In fact, many families have made visits to the iconic Kraken House part of their Halloween traditions, and the house has even been featured nationally AND internationally on various news and social media channels. But what about the family behind the magic? We are so glad you asked!
Meet The Soliman Family!
David (a Managing Partner with Faubourg Private Wealth), Michelle (a relator with Mirambell Realty), and their two kiddos are the wonderful family behind the genius that is The Kraken House. When asked which half of the couple is the larger driving force behind the decor, David admits “This was just an evolution of bad ideas, and us feeding off each other.” Michelle goes on to add, “My birthday is in the middle of October, so Halloween has always been my thing.” Additionally, colored lights for each holiday have always been David’s thing, and is still something he prides himself on. So it seems fair to say that the desire to go big on the decorations is truly a family affair. A family affair that really came to life during the COVID lockdown.
It started with a couple skeletons and a dragon. A dragon that David “legitimately thought would be the bigger hit,” but as he puts it “the dragon gets no love.” It seems safe to say that the 12 foot skeletons stole the show that first year, and then enter The Kraken tentacles. According to David, these tentacles are the product of googling “ridiculous inflatables,” and initially Michelle wasn’t a fan. After all, they didn’t “match” the skeletons. So, the tentacles were packed away until Carnival season of that year; at which time, they decided the purple, green, and gold of the tentacles were perfect for Mardi Gras.
At this point, the house began getting attention from local bloggers and news channels. Additionally, the “Parade Of House Floats” started that year (remember…covid), and the house was slowly becoming the talk of the town. But it wasn’t just local channels that picked it up. A Reuter’s photographer came to photograph the house, and is the one who originally dubbed it “The Kraken House”. After that, the house became a social media sensation. BBC, news channels in London, Turkey, and Buenos Ares all did stories on the house. It was even featured as the photo of the day on the Today Show! But how did that feel for the family? Becoming a viral sensation overnight had to be somewhat overwhelming, right?
Michelle notes, “It was wild! We were just sort of shocked at first.” After all, they were just getting into the Halloween and Carnival spirit. In fact, they quickly realized that they needed to give The Kraken House its own social media page, which you can follow here and here. Since then, The Kraken house has become an actual landmark that can be searched on google maps. That’s right, it is in google maps! Which means that people are showing up to see the display early, so the Solimans begin putting the display up in early August. Michelle mentions that they have even had people stop by at various times in the year to ask why the display is not up. To which she replied “Because it’s June” (as she laughs). But they don’t view attention as a negative. In fact it gave the Solimans an opportunity to support some local charities that they are very passionate about.
Fame With A Purpose
So far, the Solimans have used their house’s fame to help support local Musicians and Artists who were out of work during covid, as well as the homeless and underserved members of our community. Within the first year, they raised an impressive twenty thousand dollars for organizations such as The Louisiana Music And Heritage Experience, Grace At The Greenlight (which supports the local homeless community), and Culture Aid NOLA (which provides free groceries to underserved members of the community). Since then, the support of these charities has continued, and the family hopes this support will grow as their home continues to gain social media attention. In fact, Michelle would love to grow the display even further, but logistics may prove to be a problem.
Michelle notes that one of the main reasons they haven’t invested in more decor is that they are running low on storage space. As you can imagine, two 12 foot skeletons and 5 octopus tentacles (in addition to the other items) take up some significant space. Luckily, the Solimans’ home is raised, like many homes in the NOLA area. Which means they have roughly 1600 square feet of storage at their disposal. Compliments of the original owner of the house, they also have an empty elevator shaft that has become skeleton storage in the garage. They literally have “skeletons in their closet.” Aside from the storage, the raised design of the house is a pivotal part of the allure and magic.
Made For This
As Michelle points out, “This house, it’s framed so well by it (the decorations). With the height of the house, it’s just kind of a spectacular sight”. And I have to agree. The front of the house is showcased with a spectacular staircase that serves as the backdrop to the twin 12 foot skeletons, making them all the more ominous. In addition, there are balconies that wrap around the top two stories of the house, the highest being home to The Kraken.
Between the home’s design, the elaborate decorations, and the lighting that David has become so spectacular at, this house is truly magical. Definitely worth a pass by during this Halloween season (and Christmas and Carnival seasons). And while the display on the side of the house varies somewhat each year, Michelle and David say that the front of the house is set. That is something that will not change, short of adding new items.
How The Kraken House Used Carnival To Support Local Artists
This year’s new item is colored lighting IN the Kraken tentacles, giving them an even more mystical appearance. As David admits, “There is a level of fun that we have with the engineering of it. For example, inflatable tentacles are one thing, but then we ran lights through the tentacles, which make them glow now.” So they are always looking for ways to make the display more grand. David has some exciting ideas for this upcoming Carnival season as well. After all, part of their claim to fame began with carnival season, and covid porch parties with local musicians.
In fact, the Carnival Krewe of Muses featured part of the Kraken House on one of their floats a few years ago. Additionally, David is a Krewe of Tucks member, and his sub-crew sponsored “Fridays From The Funky Uncles” (now Funky Uncles live), which aired live music by local musicians from the Tucks Den. For two years, these events helped support musicians, festival gate workers, and artists; helping to spread the love of the city and make sure these artists stayed employed throughout the pandemic. Since then, this has evolved for David. He is now a board member of an organization working to bring a Louisiana Music and Heritage Museum to the city. As David mentions, “We need more opportunities to learn about local music, because that’s what makes this city the city it is”. He is clearly very passionate about the culture of this city, and it’s infectious.
Are There Other Plans For The Kraken House?
In all my Halloween loving glory, I asked the Solimans if they ever planned to make a haunted house in the spacious garage level. While Michelle admits that she has thrown the idea around, her main concern again is storage. Although she notes that she has mentioned the possibility of a storage unit to David, so maybe there is a possibility for a Kraken House haunted house in the future after all? To be determined…
Until then, the Solimans plan to continue using their fame to support local charities, as well as loaning their decorations out to organizations for charitable events. To date, one of the skeletons has made an appearance at their children’s school fair for a kid friendly haunted house, and the Kraken was used for a charitable gala at Our Lady Of The Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. Additionally, one of the skeletons was lucky enough to secure the job of “the listing skeleton” for Michelle’s career as a realtor. So if you’re house hunting in NOLA, you just might see him out and about!
A Family Tradition?
When asked if they think their girls will carry the torch for The Kraken house in the future, Michelle and David both say they hope so. They have a feeling that in their teenage years they will have a lot of fun finding ways to make The Kraken house even better, and we are here for it!!