Tuesday evening, the East Bank Carnival Advisory Committee gathered for its first meeting. The new group’s mission is clear: find a way to save Jefferson Parish carnival krewes that are in danger of losing members or even folding.
“We need to think really out of the box,” said Todd Murphy who is the president of the Jefferson Parish Chamber and represents the Krewe of Argus on the committee.
Murphy and a representative for the krewes of Hera and Zeus agreed with Murphy that moving their parades away from the traditional route on Veterans Highway and to Metairie Road/Bonnabel Blvd.
“We are losing members to the city,” said Brian Landry who represents Hera and Zeus on the committee.
The krewes say riders are opting to join other groups that ride on the Uptown New Orleans route. They think giving east bank krewes in Jefferson the Metairie Rd. option– with its oak trees — will convince the riders to stick with JP organizations.
But Caesar’s Bob Carnesi disagrees.
“I had a meeting three weeks ago. I had 200 members. I asked for a show of hands, ‘How many of you want to go down Metairie Road?’ Not one hand went up,” Carnesi told other committee members.
The parish’s representative on the committee is also talking about big disadvantages to the Metairie Rd. route. Director of Citizens’ Affairs Sean Burke says the confined area would mean no viewing stands and much fewer portalets. He also says there would be fewer vendors which would mean less sales tax revenue for the parish which spends about $75,000 for each parade.
The committee also kicked around the idea of surrendering the second weekend of carnival to New Orleans and moving more parades to the first weekend.
“There’s a parade, and there’s another parade and another parade. It becomes an event,” said Murphy.
Other committee members expressed concern that moving the second weekend’s parades would actually result in even more riders moving to New Orleans krewes.
The committee hopes to come up with some suggestions to pass along to the parish council by the end of spring.
At least one neighborhood association member who attended the meeting expected to see more people who live along Metairie Road to attend future committee meetings to express their opposition to the proposed new route.