This is all quite simple, and it’s really amazing that we’re the first ones saying it publicly, but if LaToya Cantrell refuses to hold Mardi Gras in New Orleans then it’s time to move Mardi Gras to the suburbs.
And keep it there. New Orleans committed suicide when it elected Cantrell. Why everybody wants to sit in the room with the corpse as it rots is puzzling.
If we’ve learned anything this year it is that we’ve had to learn to adapt to a lot of changes. And it hasn’t been easy and for many it has been heartbreaking.
Many business owners say the latest changes in the City of New Orleans only add to their frustration.
What does New Orleans look like without Mardi Gras parades?
With less than 50 days until the start of Carnival season, very soon we’ll find out.
“We’re still going to promote Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras will go on. In 2021, it will just look a little bit different,” says Kelly Shultz with New Orleans and Company.
Shultz says parades or no parades, the city still has a lot to offer visitors during Carnival time.
“We know that there is a lot of love for New Orleans out there. When it comes to visitors, I think there’s a lot of pent up demand for travel overall,” says Shultz.
And she says the city should be upfront with visitors on what the Carnival season will look like.
“We know that visitors are wanting to come back to the city and they can do now in ways that are safe.”
What will be offered for those visiting in still on the table.
For businesses along the parade routes, they’re wondering the same thing. What will Mardi Gras look like?
“There’s a part of you that always hopes that they’ll figure it out and make something happen, but I wasn’t really surprised,” says Polly Watts, owner of the Avenue Pub.
The Avenue Pub sits right on St. Charles Avenue along the Uptown parade route so it sees a lot of action during Carnival season.
While this upcoming Carnival season will just be another devastating blow to business, she understands the move to cancel parades.
“It’s impossible to be a bar on the parade route and not see the common sense behind the mayor and the health department’s decision,” says Watts.
Because how do you enforce COVID safety measures during the parade?
It would be extremely difficult, expensive and near impossible.
“If the city was going to let parades roll, we were going to do to-go windows only. We weren’t going to let anyone in the building,” says Watts.
It isn’t a surprise that the New Orleans & Company people are putting a brave face on the mayor gutting Mardi Gras, but for the bar owners to call it “common sense” to whack all of the parades FOUR MONTHS before the carnival season starts reeks of Stockholm Syndrome.
Jefferson Parish ought to be making plans to steal away every parade they can out of New Orleans, on one-year contracts if they have to and on multi-year contracts if possible. Make Jefferson the new home of Mardi Gras and don’t give it back. Redevelop the lousy parts of Jefferson’s East Bank – like along Jefferson Highway on the east side of Elmwood Shopping Center all the way to the Orleans Parish line – as parade areas, and watch some of those businesses Cantrell broke in Orleans Parish start to move in.
It’s the best economic development opportunity that parish has had, perhaps in its history. Cantrell’s stupidity is giving Jefferson the brass ring. Will they take it?