For MCA Mardi Gras Queen Greer Turner, there’s no place like home

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Residents: Police Shortage Is a Security Risk for Mardi Gras.

Throughout the quieter parts of the French Quarter, residents and businesses have posted signs that read “Caution: Walk in Large Groups. The krewe will walk a different route in 2015. (Michael DeMocker, / The Times-Picayune archive) (Michael DeMocker) The casual observer might think of Mardi Gras — despite its floating annual date — as a set thing so steeped in history and tradition that there’s not much difference in one Carnival from the other.

We Just Need More.” It’s an unsettling message about violent crime in the Big Easy for the 1 million revelers about to descend for Carnival season, which this year ends on Feb. 17, Fat Tuesday. And this year is no different. (About those parades, there’s a guide for those and more.) Here’s a starting list of new things for this year’s Mardi Gras. Despite their presence, shootings have occurred in nightclubs, on Bourbon Street, or along Carnival parade routes — many of which end at or near the Quarter — in at least eight of the past 11 years. Since November, a series of more than 60 robberies in and around the Quarter has shocked residents and sparked outrage directed not so much at the New Orleans Police Department but at Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is pushing back against complaints that he paints a too-flattering picture of his crime-fighting efforts.

He said he couldn’t sit idle after his mansion on an oak-lined avenue along one edge of the Quarter was burglarized in December, and then Buffa’s Bar & Restaurant next door to his home was robbed by two armed men. Much of the neutral ground construction zone will be fenced off and closed to the public, although the routes will not change, said Rene Poche, a Corps of Engineers spokesman. The French Quarter’s narrow, 300-year-old streets contribute to its charm, but also make it a haven for muggings, especially between October and March, the height of the tourism and convention season. A Loyola University study of robberies in tourist areas during those months in 2007 and 2008 found visitors were the targets in 34 out of 155 robberies.

The study put some of the blame on outsiders themselves, many of whom apparently were inebriated and lured to unsafe places in search of drugs and sex. “As we move into the Carnival season, you are going to see a robust force on the streets,” Landrieu said. “I’ve authorized as much overtime as is necessary.” The force has lost about 500 officers since Katrina struck in 2005 and it is now down to about 1,150 — far fewer than the 1,600 that Landrieu would like. As few as 250 officers were found to be on patrol duty and responding to calls for help in May 2013, a city inspector general report found last May. “I have been to some roll calls where there is one cop, two cops,” said Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, a police union. The route will take the krewe up to Frenchmen Street, where it will turn right on Dauphine Street and head all the way down to Poland Avenue and back toward the original starting point.” Doug MacCash writes: “The science fiction-oriented Carnival marching group called The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus has become a bona fide religion, co-founder Ryan Ballard said Wednesday (Oct. 8). Justice Department probe, are contributing to the depleted force. “We want them to know that, especially at night, it’s not safe to walk by yourself because you are a target,” French Quarter resident Crystal Hinds said as she put up signs recently. “It’s such a historic area, and it’s priceless. As Ballard explains it, the conversion is the product of a practical joke blended with an appeal for tax-exempt status. ‘It kind of grew out of a natural evolution of the krewe,” he said. “We’ve had an inside joke that Chewbacchus is like a cult.'” Bob Warren writes: “For many folks, no Mardi Gras season can be called a success unless bags and bags of beads have to be toted up the attic stairs after the parades have all passed.

But a labor dispute across the country could spell trouble for getting some of those beads into the hands of the people who toss them off the Carnival floats, a WWL news report says.” Judy Walker writes: “For starters, Haydel’s Bakery partnered with the ride-sharing service Uber to deliver cakes on Jan. 6. And Haydel’s has expanded its pop-up locations to three this year (3940 Veterans Blvd., Metairie; 2431 Metairie Road; 4001 Magazine St., New Orleans). The theme of the inaugural procession is ‘The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale Remembers Hollywood Horror Classics,’ according to krewe founder Gwendolyn Rainey. Paradegoers will see 14 floats depicting silver screen incarnations of werewolves, headless horsemen, brides of Dracula and witches, among other monsters and menaces.

There also will be 35 bands and assorted marching groups.” Chris Waddington writes: “Crowds from the Zulu event often wander over to nearby Spanish Plaza, 1 Poydras St., for the arrival of Rex — the first time that loyal subjects will get to see the 2015 King of Carnival in his raiment. Last year, a Fat Tuesday rainstorm challenged krewes to maintain a high standard or face fines, as WDSU television noted in wrapping up changes for the 2015 schedule.

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