Posts tagged Canal Street
This is only the second or third story that will go on both of my blogs. Crime and Mardi Gras do occasionally mix.
There are signs all over the French Quarter which state Caution: Walk in Large Groups. We (heart) N.O.P.D. We Just Need More. This isn’t a good sign for a city about to enter one of the biggest holidays of the year, Mardi Gras. Approximately 1 million visitors descend on New Orleans each Carnival season and most will hit the Quarter soon after arriving. They will be greeted by a French Quarter bathed in unsettling signs.
Security is a growing concern to many New Orleanians and Americans. When New Orleans is perceived as a dangerous place, less people make plans to visit. The streets of New Orleans during Carnival are full of state troopers, federal agents, virtually half the police force at one time, plus scads of private security personnel. Downtown there are a lot of weirdos that make it down to Mardi Gras also.
In the last 11 years, at least 27 people were injured and one killed on parade routes and Bourbon Street. That is one horrific statistic. Carnival has historically had a violent side. I personally have been very close on St Charles Avenue to a major shooting incident a decade ago. I’ve had very large groups with me at times and much smaller at other, but no one in my group has ever been accosted on the parade route or downtown or in Metairie or other parades around the metro area.
Another growing trend, private security cameras, have caught many of these assaults and shown the brazenness of the perpetrators. The variety of weapons employed is staggering. This footage shows up on YouTube and adds to our collective anxiety.
Since Katrina, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) has lost about 500 officers, and I’ve written about this problem recently on my other blog about jail and justice in New Orleans here. Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, a police union, says I have been to some roll calls where there is one cop, two cops. Mayor Mitch Landrieu would like around 1,600 officers. I’ve authorized as much overtime as is necessary, says our Mayor.
The Mayor has personally felt the sting of crime very recently. One of his personal vehicles was stolen in front of his home over the weekend. The 2006 Jeep was recovered within blocks of his house by an off duty Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy. The Jeep was equipped with LoJack technology. The deputy was heading home across the Mississippi River bridge after finishing a 12 hour shift. His LoJack receiver in his patrol car picked up the signal. He called in the information and found out the car belonged to the mayor of New Orleans. He followed the signal and found himself near the 2nd District Police station. He stopped and checked in, then began pursuing the stolen vehicle again. He ran into the Jeep at General Taylor and Constance streets.
Turns out the New Orleans police never received the LoJack signal as Jefferson Parish did. Hmmm.
According Glasser, This shows crime is not limited to a handful of people in the traditionally ‘bad areas.’ Anybody can be a victim, and ironically, the victim in this case is the person screaming the loudest that crime is down. And while he admits there’s a staffing shortage, I think he underrates the importance of that.
Robert Tallant, the New Orleans author, said it all- Mardi Gras is a spirit…an immortal one…as immortal as man’s ability to make believe, to escape the dreariness of the everyday life that is most men’s portion, to have fun, laugh and to play…Mardi Gras is very old, but it is also very young. It belongs to the past, yet also to the present and the future. The face it wears is not necessarily its last. It will exist in other forms, in other times, in other places. It would be wonderful if the clown in the grinning mask should appear on all the Main Streets of the world, if the blazing flambeaux and the rocking floats there could be a season or at least a day devoted to Laughter.
More on Robert Tallant photography here @ nutriasdotorg.
The color photo above and the 1905 trio of Mardi Gras costumers above are from Tidbits, Trinkets and Images.
Obviously, Jay Banks’ challenge rocked the Zulu Establishment to its very foundations. Just as quickly, Jay Banks dropped his challenge, so we won’t ever find out what became of those missing absentee ballots.
On Sunday, June 5, Zulu members also ratified James May 29 election.
Banks has run unsuccessfully for Zulu king twice in the past.
Yes, Mardi Gras parade goers still sue even though most locals and many tourists know that you cannot sue from being hit by a throw in New Orleans in almost all cases.
Daisy Johnson Palmer, a 74-year-old retired Orleans Parish public schoolteacher, wants the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club to pay for the bloody cut, and ensuing trauma, she says came from a coconut lobbed in her direction Feb. 28, 2006, as Zulu paraded down Canal Street.
Four years later, though, a Louisiana appeals court tossed out her case after finding that her claims of trauma from a hollowed-out Zulu coconut thrown underhanded into the French Quarter crowd didn’t merit a trial at Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Palmer’s attorney, Edwin Fleischmann, said he is awaiting the final decision from the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Zulu’s rules say that the throwing of coconuts is “positively forbidden,” as is tossing any throws to the rear of a float. In 2004, Vice president Naaman Stewart was one of Zulu’s most vocal advocates for the adoption of a lightweight coconut, hollowed-out, shaved coconuts purchased in bulk from a Vietnam supplier and shipped to New Orleans where members decorate & paint them. An average store-bought coconut filled with milk & meat can weigh up to 1 1/2 lbs.
A comfortable spot at the rear of the parade crowd allows a more complete view of the floats and better blending of band sounds. In the front, the excitement is more intense, the throws more plentiful, and the paraders’ costumes and expressions visible. Either choice has its merits. Comfortable positions in front are very hard to come by at the more popular parades.
Avoid Canal Street near the French Quarter, unless the most crowded viewing area is sought.
Go to the suburbs, where the crowds are often smaller. Endymion, Bacchus, Rex, Zulu and Orpheus are the most crowded parades, drawing the most suburbanites, locals, and tourists. Few city people and tourists travel to the suburbs for parades.
See a parade on one of the less crowded days. On St. Charles Avenue, the most crowded days are the second weekend of the parade season, which is the weekend before Mardi Gras Day. Ancient Druids roll on Wednesday, February 18, and the crowds should be very manageable. Proteus, one of our favorite parades, is rather sparsely attended, since the night it rolls is both right after the biggest party weekend of the year and the day before Fat Tuesday.
Attend a parade in threatening weather. Many people stay home. Very occasionally, parades do cancel so check radio or web updates when necessary.
Once at a parade of your choice- avoid intersections, especially major ones. Walk until the crowd thins out.
Head to double back areas, if any. Stand on the neutral ground to see the parade twice, coming and going.
Watch near the start and ending areas. Crowds are often thinner at these areas, but this isn’t always so.