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Jefferson Parish overhauls Mardi Gras parades

The East Bank Carnival Advisory Committee’s mission is to find a way to save Jefferson Parish carnival krewes that are in danger of losing members or even folding.

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Two days after Jefferson Parish called to order its first meeting of the East Bank Carnival Advisory Committee, Sheriff Newell Normand told WGNO News his own ideas for improving carnival parades in the parish.

“We have to come to a situation where we have a good product that we put out on the street,” Normand said.

Many of the krewes in Jefferson Parish are dealing with dwindling memberships.

The parish’s committee is looking at ideas like changing the days when parades roll to create a giant first weekend of carnival and basically surrendering the second weekend to New Orleans and its super krewes.

“We have nobody on the route in that second weekend,” he said.

Normand agrees that stacking parades on the same weekend as Family Gras would draw bigger crowds and hopefully more riders.

Normand did not weigh in on the committee’s consideration of giving krewes the option of moving to a Metairie Rd/Bonnabel Blvd route, but a representative of his office previously stated that the move would create significant issues for the JPSO including higher costs.

Normand directed his most critical comments at some carnival krewe — although not singling out any by name — that he says need to step up their game if the parish is going to continue to pay the average cost of $75,000 to police and clean-up after their parades.

“If you’re not strong enough financially, you’re not strong enough as a krewe to meet the minimum requirements, you have no business parading.”  Normand said.  “I intend to tell the committee that if you don’t meet the minumum requirements by the deadlines that are imposed by the parish ordinance, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is not going to be on the street.”

 

 

jpcarnivalTuesday 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.

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