City officials tout Mardi Gras preparation, remind of tent ban along parade route

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NEW ORLEANS – City officials laid out some safety plans for Mardi Gras 2018 at a press conference this morning, including a new ban on enclosed tents along the parade route.

Open canopies will still be allowed, but tents are forbidden amid a slew of other city regulations designed to keep revelers safe along the parade route, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

“No ladders, chairs, ice chests, or barbecue grills in the intersections or between the curbs,” Landrieu said. “This is because if there’s an emergency, nobody can get through those particular areas, and on top of that, there will be no full tents allowed on the parade route. This is a Homeland Security threat. We need to be able to see. There can be tarps, but there can be no tents.”

A shooting along the Uptown parade route last year that originated from the inside of a portable toilet highlighted the need to ban enclosed spaces along the route, Landrieu said.

Parade goers are also forbidden from roping off areas of the neutral ground, fastening ladders together, and placing private portable toilets on the neutral ground, an act which carries a fine of $250 per day to the toilet’s owner, Landrieu said.

Overall, Landrieu said he hopes all citizens of New Orleans and Mardi Gras visitors alike can use common sense and common courtesy to keep the festivities safe and running smoothly.

NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said his force will be fully staffed throughout Carnival season.

“Beginning Friday, February 2, we will at 100 percent staffing,” Harrison said. “We will begin 12 hour shifts, which allows us to have a robust deployment for Mardi Gras, but also a robust deployment in every part of our city and in all of our neighborhoods.”

Louisiana State Police are providing 165 State Troopers and personnel throughout Mardi Gras, and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Department, Tulane University Police Department, Louisiana Probation and Parole, the Kenner Police Department, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Department will also chip in, Harrison said.

New Orleans Fire Department Chief Tim McConnell reminded everyone to stay safe around lit or hot barbecue grills on the parade route.

“Although you can have a barbecue pit on the parade route, they are extremely dangerous,” McConnell said. “They need to be kept 10 feet away from any structure, or any kind of canopy. Keep them away from where the crowds are. They are very hot, and if someone were to trip, fall or get knocked over, they could cause some serious physical damage.”

Landrieu said all first responders will be operating at full capacity for the next few weeks, and that everyone should be very grateful for that.

“If you see a first responder, a police officer, EMS, please tell them thank you,” Landrieu said. “They are about to stay on their feet 24/7 for three or four weeks to have the greatest free show on Earth.