4 of 8 parades is big news. I’ve written about parade problems in Jefferson Parish before, including this entry about West Bank parade difficulties. Violations abound, and the krewes could lose their right to parade if they commit further violations in 2016.
I personally believe first violations should receive a warning. Mardi Gras krewes are a precious commodity. It takes oodles of cash, tight administration, organization skills and lots of dedicated people to successfully launch a parading organization. Mardi Gras krewes don’t grow on trees, they need to be nurtured carefully. Intentionally bruising Mardi Gras krewes helps ensure fewer krewes.
While the ordinance has been in effect for 2 years with no infractions noted before, putting half your krewes on probation is never a good idea. Why not ban Carnival in Slidell while the Council is at it?
The four offending krewes are Dionysus, the Slidell’s Woman’s Civic Club, Claude and Perseus. The four parades without letters are the two walking parades, Mona Lisa and MoonPie and Krewe de Paws of Olde Towne plus Selene and Titans.
Over the last few decades, a hands off attitude concerning local parades was in effect. Things got tough in 2013 when the Slidell City Council adopted a litany of rules and regulations governing Carnival. New Orleans had toughened their parade regulations, and Slidell followed their lead. Reasons for probation- insufficient floats, riders, and bands; inefficient parade tempo; inappropriate dancing and music (?). This seems very petty. Parades are mile long, living processions that sometimes develop gaps. DJs have to produce hours of music. Once every blue moon, a curse word may sneak in a song. It’s not the end of the world. It certainly doesn’t mean probation.
Something seems out of whack to me. Dionysus captain Andy Frisard mentioned an email informing krewes about a meeting which stated failing to attend could jeopardize their permits. That set the meeting off on a unfriendly tone. Why threaten your krewes, who work hard and spend a small fortune to produce their parade for the good of the community?
Contrast this with the response of the Jefferson Parish council, which recently gave Jefferson krewes high marks even though apparently many parade infractions occurred. Questionable throws and fighting are among the violations committed. It looks like Jefferson is getting lax while Slidell is tightening the screws.Jefferson krewes committed some egregious violations and got away with them! Throwing light bulbs (2014) and drug testing kits (2015) to the crowd is downright sick and dangerous. Who is the Jefferson Council kidding by granting this clean bill of krewe health? It turns out a Captain in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office filed suit in March 2014 in Jefferson Parish against 2 float riders in the Corps du Napoleon parade. Here’s the digest of the suit from Louisianarecord.com- GRETNA – A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office captain is suing a pair of Mardi Gras float riders, as well as the Mardi Krewe and the float’s sponsor for injuries he allegedly received in an incident on board their float. Claude Wood Jr., and wife Cindy, filed suit against Brian E. Duhe, Kyle T. Crochet, TP Clearview, Corps De Napoleon and their insurers in the 24th Judicial District Court on Jan. 16. Wood, a captain in the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, alleges that on March 2, 2014 riders aboard a Corps De Napoleon float, sponsored by Twin Peaks restaurant, started unscrewing light bulbs from the float and throwing them into the crowd during a Mardi Gras parade. The plaintiff contends that he boarded the float to confront the riders when he was attacked by Duhe and Crochet, employees of Twin Peaks who allegedly failed to monitor their alcohol consumption and monitor their employee’s actions. Wood asserts he was injured in the incident and had to be treated at a local hospital. The defendants are is accused of failing to act with care and diligence, failing to take into account the safety of others, failing to prevent the throwing of lights bulbs from the float, failing to recognize the float riders were impaired and providing and encouraging alcohol consumption. Damages in excess of $75,000 is sought for physical pain and discomfort, mental anguish, disability, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, aggravation, annoyance, medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of use of parts of body, bodily disability, impairment of psychological functioning, destruction of earning capacity, loss of support, loss of society and loss of consortium. Wood is represented by Robert. T. Evans of New Orleans-based Burgos & Evans. The case has been assigned to Division G Judge E. Adrian Adams. Case no. 745-922. –
What’s the motivation here? Jefferson Parish has been recently burned by old line krewes abandoning the parish for greener pastures on St. Charles Avenue. A check of sanctions passed by Jefferson in the last few years shows in 2012, 5 krewes were fined $1,300. The next year, 6 krewes were penalized $6,000. Last year, 1 krewe was fined $500. Slidell hasn’t lost any krewes to sanctions or parade route jumping yet. It should be interesting in Slidell the next few years.
Adonis permanent revocation was reduced to a $500 fine, and has asked to parade in Terrytown in 2015 before withdrawing their application after an email campaign was largely negative. The parish attorney said if Adonis has any new infractions, their permit will be revoked. I’ve written before about Jefferson Parish losing parades.
Here’s another story about Zeus backing off their St. Charles Parish application.
Zeus revocation was reduced to a one year suspension. The krewe is considering appealing that ruling. Zeus has traditionally paraded on Lundi Gras, but would lose that date after their one season suspension was served. Zeus started parading in 1958, making them the oldest Jefferson krewe.
Both krewes got into trouble with a 2009 Jefferson Parish ordinance that set standards for Mardi Gras parades. For the first time, krewes were required to field a minimum number of floats, bands, and riders. Zeus lost their permit because of four violations after their 2014 parade. Adonis didn’t have enough riders for their 2014 parade, which caused the city council to act.
The krewes think they were victims of an overzealous city council and went to court for relief. The court was accommodating, and obviously felt along the same lines as the krewe. I kind of agree, and think all krewes deserve a serious warning or two before their permit is pulled, a draconian measure to say the least. Of course, it’s more draconian in Orleans Parish than Jefferson, since Orleans has a moratorium on new parades and Jefferson doesn’t.
Either way it’s up to both krewes to show the court and the people of Jefferson they are viable parading krewes in 2015 and beyond.
Update! Zeus has withdrawn their parade application after the solicited email response was 70% against the new parade.
After losing their parade permit from Jefferson Parish, the Krewe of Zeus may surface in St. Charles parish. St. Charles doesn’t has a new parade ordinance with teeth like Jefferson or Orleans.
The krewe had just two marching bands in its 2014 parade, three shy of the minimum, and it also had too few floats, Jefferson parish officials said. Jefferson’s ordinance requires Carnival parades to have at least 10 floats, not including those for the captain, grand marshal or royalty. Zeus’ initial 2014 plans indicated 12 floats, but it rolled with only 11, including those for the king and grand marshal.
Five years ago, Metairie had 14 parades, today there is only 9.
The Krewe of Zeus has applied for a permit to parade on River Road and Ormond Boulevard.The parade’s proposed route would travel west from Ormond Plantation on River Road to Ormond Boulevard, then north to Greenwood Drive, where it would turn around on Ormond Boulevard and retrace the route.
The following is from the Krewe of Zeus site-
Founded in 1957 at Gennaro’s Bar from the minds of 6 drinking men and a pair of dice. In 1958, the Krewe of Zeus would stage the first night parade ever in the burbs “The Realm of Mother Nature”. And with rented costumes, and rented floats, and led by search lights in the sky with William Dwyer (co-founder) as King, the Krewe of Zeus would roll down Metairie Road with 150 members.
The parade would last some 5 and 1 half hour long, the men stopping to toast at every drinking establishment along the way. And from this all male Krewe would emerge an unparallel Metairie tradition & Celebration that has lasted over 5 decades in the heart of Jefferson Parish. From the first viewing stands for children with special needs, and the Drachma; to the predominate start of the Irish Italian Parade and the only Metairie Krewe to stage two parades in one season.
The men of Zeus have shown innovations (often copied, but never duplicated) that truly earn them their motto: “Second To None” And after 55 years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better group of guys with love & loyalty for their Krewe!
The Times Picayune’s headline yesterday states the Krewe of Zeus wants to leave Metairie route. Nothing could be further from the truth. Zeus lost their spot in the Metairie parade schedule. They aren’t banned from parading in Metairie in the future, but they must correct their deficiencies first.
Jefferson Parish’s Carnival is downsizing and changing for the worse in the last couple of years- one of the oldest krewes in Jefferson, the venerable Krewe of Thor, won’t parade in 2014, their 40th anniversary. Earlier this year, another old line Jefferson parade, Grela, called it quits. Jefferson Parish parades on both sides of the Mississippi River have been struggling even before these parades cancelled. It seems Jefferson parades are on a suicide march.
A new parade, the Guardians of Atlantis, won’t roll either. Membership concerns was the reason given.
Last year, some Carnival krewes in Metairie were fined for violating parade ordinances enforced for the first time.
“I was shocked. I felt like it was a slap in the face,” Krewe of Thor captain McKinley Cantrell said.
Cantrell, a 38-year captain and president of the Krewe of Thor, which was founded in 1974, said his krewe has been fined $400 for violating an ordinance prohibiting unmasked riders. The citation states that 60 of the krewe’s 500 riders did not follow the rules.
“I don’t have any control. I don’t have any control over that,” Cantrell said.
Cantrell said at least three Carnival krewes in Jefferson Parish were cited for violating parade ordinances. The Krewe of Atlas was fined $600 for two violations, member Daniel Murray said.
Smoking a joint on the float. The second violation is somebody on the float threw beads soaked in vomit, Murray said. That is really disgusting, they should have locked up the rider who threw vomit soaked beads.
There’s probably a link between last year’s fines and Thor throwing in the towel.
I cannot agree with Cantrell’s statement that he cannot control his members masking or not. If the Captain tells his membership to mask or else, they will mask. Orleans krewe members mask because there are well known penalties for disobeying. The truck floats on Mardi Gras Day have laxer rules than regular Orleans parades.
For decades, the Cantrell family was a major Mardi Gras float building company, building parades in the metro area for 60 years. Cantrell Sr. was Captain of the Krewe of Mardi Gras, and Jr. was Captain of Thor. Each was a pretty substantial parade back in their heyday. The Krewe of Mardi Gras ceased parading years ago. Now that Thor has stopped, it’s the end of an era in Jefferson.
When I was younger and my wife was by my side, I took my family during Carnival season to a lot of parades annually. We are talking around 40 parades per season, and we saw many twice. We were as wild a bunch of parade goers as ever was, and we loved every moment of that lifestyle. We gathered up our kids and the neighborhood kids and off we went, to the Orleans parish parades first, and in those days, we went to Hayne Boulevard, Freret Street, Claiborne Avenue, Downtown, Uptown, Mid City, Metairie, the West Bank, Slidell, the North Shore, and anywhere else a Mardi Gras rolled in the Metro area.
Now to talk about Metairie parades, they kind of suck these days, but Alla and Caesar will never suck; they remain really good parades in all aspects. What has happened is sad, but Metairie parades have been fading in quality for a while now. Not enough bands, not enough masking and costuming by float riders. That is now, but back then, when Metairie had very good parades, they were lots of fun and very worthwhile to attend. I remember how large Thor and Mardi Gras (now gone) was, they were captained by a father-son team, who also were float builders.
I had a resume company in Metairie, my only Jefferson job. This was when the Louisiana oil patch was doing poorly, and I learned a little about a lot of jobs. My office was right on Veterans near Bonnabel, and we would go out their to hang out during parades, have our own bathroom, and brought all sorts of delectable foods to snack on. I remember catching like a zillion cups during a Thor parade years ago.
Jefferson Parish officials fined a number of Metairie krewes because of lack of bands and not masking or costuming. $6,000 worth of fines have been assessed, more than four times the 2012 amount. The Jefferson Truck parade was charged $2,500 and the other truck parade, Elks Jeffersonians, was charged $1,800. Thor was hit with a $900 fine, Atlas $500, and Adonis $200. 2013 was the first year the Jefferson truck parades were subject to the costuming/masking requirements. They didn’t do well, did they?
Jefferson Parish officials are thinking about adding a second route. The only route for many years was down Veterans to Bonnabel Avenue, turnaround on Bonnabel, back to Veterans Boulevard to Severn Avenue, down Severn, then turn around on Severn to Veterans, then down Veterans to the end. We used to see the parade twice as it turned around on Bonnabel, running back and forth across the neutral ground to catch each float twice!
So what will happen to the Metairie Mardi Gras parades? That chapter hasn’t been fully written yet. Several krewes aren’t happy with the Veterans route, and are thinking of Metairie Road. The problem with Metairie Road is it is narrow with no neutral grounds and few sidewalks. Still, it’s a beautiful area with a good bit of shade trees (many nice oaks) despite all the shopping that has been built over the last few decades. Like Veterans, behind the stores are homes, homes, and more homes.