Residents: Police Shortage Is a Security Risk for Mardi Gras

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Residents: Police shortage is a security risk for Mardi Gras.

FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2014 file photo, Louisiana State Troopers lead a man away from the scene of a fatal stabbing in the French Quarter of New Orleans. 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. French Quarter residents are fearful that Mardi Gras may be marred again by violence and they’ve posted signs on balconies, doors and in windows advising people to “walk in large groups.” At least eight out of the past 11 Carnival festivities have seen shootings take place at parade routes, in clubs or on Bourbon Street.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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). 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.

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. 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. 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. Part of the fun, after the last act on Sunday strums its last chord, has come to include turning one’s eyes from the musical stage to see a Carnival parade on Veterans Memorial Boulevard. On (Jan. 8), however, news that the Krewe of Atlas will not parade in the Feb. 8 slot this year shook up Family Gras organizers. ‘It’s very disappointing,’ said Violet Peters, president of the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau, which organizes Family Gras festivities. ‘It’s really become an established event. …

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