NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Many New Orleans Mardi Gras krewes want to go back to their original, longer parade routes, and Thursday night, the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council talked about the rules krewes will have to follow to make it happen.
City officials are hopeful that giving krewes an opportunity to secure additional officers for their original routes is the best solution for all parties involved.
“It is an economic imperative that we take full advantage of what Mardi Gras means to the economy of New Orleans and, specifically, the neighborhoods along those routes,” James Reiss, with the Rex Organization, said.
The New Orleans Police Department is dedicating between $400,000 and $800,000 to pay off-duty Louisiana POST-certified officers to help keep Mardi gras safe.
“Once again, this is an investment,” New Orleans CAO Gilbert Montano said. “What the city will see in return between sales tax, hotel-motel tax and flights coming in is going to far surpass, as you heard, almost 4-1 for every dollar invested.”
With a little help from NOPD, krewes wishing to return to their regular parade routes must secure the necessary amount of law enforcement officers to cover the additional street corners with four officers per block by January 23.
“One of the officials today said this should have be done a good while back, and it probably should have, but, at this point, right now, we’re just trying… I think 72 officers is what I have to have,” Jack Rizzuto, the Krewe Captain of Pygmalion & Mid-City, said.
Nonetheless, krewes say this is the largest collaboration among clubs they’ve seen in decades, and officials say the efforts will pay off.
“Basically, we’re throwing everything and the kitchen sink to try to get Mardi Gras back, and we’re hopeful this opportunity will provide it,” Montano said. “We should know.”
Krewes must submit the names of officers and their certification to NOPD by Jan. 23.