Is It Time To Shut Down Mardi Gras In Shreveport? [Op-Ed]
I may not have as many Mardi Gras parades under my belt as some, but I feel like I've seen enough to know what I'm talking about.
For the last few years, I've enjoyed multiple Mardi Gras parades in the same spot in Shreveport. My family gets together with some incredible friends, we have a nice little afternoon of grilling and adult beverages, then we make our way out to the street to watch the parade and hopefully catch some throws. I really enjoy the staple this has become in our lives.
Every year I leave the parade route frustrated, disappointed, and really just plain angry.
Let me say, it's not the Krewes, or 99.9% of the people on a float, with a Krewe, or someone walking or driving in the parade. There's only one little detail involved with the parade itself that I would point to, and if none of the other garbage was going on around it, I'd never point it out.
I'm not even going to jump on the fact that the city can't keep up with how to get those crowds out of there after the parade. Closing down random streets, not being coordinated enough to know that closing one will cause problems on another. Ignoring all parking laws so then where cars are parked will lead to issues on the roads. Not even going to get going on that.
My issues are all tied to the people watching the parade.
Every single year I see some of the most egregious behavior that I have ever witnessed, and this isn't some 'high and mighty' type stuff. I'm not upset with people drinking in public, wearing weird outfits, screaming at the top of their lungs...hell, to be honest I'm not even worried about public nudity (not overboard, but the typical stuff you'd expect from a Mardi Gras parade). So don't think that this is some kind of prude sentiment.
The things that I'm concerned with are all things that someone else has thought of before, because they're all already posted as "Prohibited Items/Acts" for the parades. Well, at least for the Krewe of Centaur parade this past weekend.
It was like people had it printed out, and were treating it like a bingo card, and not an advisory. Even things that we were told would be "points of emphasis" were completely ignored...at least where I was located.
Here's the list from the Krewe of Centaur:
•No glass bottles or containers are allowed on the parade route.
•No one may cross parade barricades during the parade.
•No animals allowed within 200 yards of the parade route, except animals that are in secured yards of residents living along the parade route and service animals.
•No dangerous objects or silly string.
•No concealed carrying of a firearm.
•No one may throw anything at a parade float.
•Large flags or banners are not allowed within 50 feet of the parade route.
•No underage possession of alcohol. Violators will be arrested.
•No public nudity will be tolerated. Violators will be arrested.
•No ATV’s, side by side, dirt bikes, or any other motorized recreational vehicles are allowed on any public property along the parade route, this includes the grassy areas along Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway and city streets. Violators will be subject to citation, arrest, and towing of the vehicle.
Did I see glass bottles on the parade route, yes. Were people around me jumping barricades, about 40% of them. Did I see animals? Oh yeah, dogs that could snap-kill a child in 10 seconds. Concealed carry, yeah, but I guess it was actually open carry, so I don't know why this is a rule.
How about throwing things at parade floats...yes. Violently, and regularly.
People were pelting dance crews, brand new sponsor cars, police vehicles, and float riders. It was insane. One of the wads of beads thrown into the parade flew threw the float, and landed at our barricade hard enough to break.
There may have been some of the others happening, but I was already rage-blind after a little bit. I happened to see golf carts rolling up and down the streets though, I could see through my anger-haze to see those.
The thing that really set me off though, was the behavior of kids and parents on the parade route.
I STRAIGHT UP SAW A KID ALMOST GET HIT BY A TRUCK.
The kid ran out to get some beads or trinket, and nearly got smashed by a truck. They slammed on their breaks, the kid doubled back, and nothing happened...except some panic attacks. But oddly, the mother (or at least the person who acted like the female parental figure of the child) didn't even blink. The same kid trucked over other children in the street in an effort to get his filthy street beads. If the two events happened at the same time, and he shoulder charged a kid as a truck was coming, the other kid would have been run over.
Which is ultimately where I've gotten to. SOMEONE WILL NEED TO DIE IN SHREVEPORT BEFORE ANYONE DOES ANYTHING.
What a sad commentary on who we've become.
Are these rules actually laws, created by the City of Shreveport, then ignored consciously by those who are supposed to enforce them? Because I watched 4-5 man crews of police go up-and-down in front of me, seeing all of this happen, and just moving along.
Maybe these rules are created by the Krewes, and there's no real enforcement of them.
At this point, I don't know. Because the answer to either of those scenarios is probably not good. If the City has these laws, and they're totally ignored, and someone dies, what does that feel like. If these guidelines are just from the Krewes, and something horrific happens, where do we go from there?
There are some quick things that could happen that would clear a lot of this up though. It could be done in time for this weekend's Krewe of Gemini parade.
First, barricades need to be on all sides of the roads. This includes Shreve City and all over the Duck Pond area. Two, enforce the laws/guidelines posted strictly. Three, have people actually be responsible and police themselves...if your idiot friend whips beads at someone on a float, say something.
Outside of changes taking place, there are only two options...one is waiting for a tragedy to force our hand, or the other is take away the parades.
When I originally posted my displeasure on social media, it wasn't met with push back, it was embraced. There were many people who voiced that they don't come to the parades anymore because of the behavior of the public. There were others who pointed at Bossier City and said its behavior like this that keeps the city from bringing parades back to that side of the river.
Sadly our state did witness tragedy this past weekend in New Orleans, when a young woman lost her life at a Mardi Gras parade.
Now, New Orleans is big enough, and the Mardi Gras wheel there is big enough that it will keep turning despite that tragedy. But is Shreveport that strong enough? The threat of rain took down this year's public participation in the Krewe of Centaur parade by a noticeable margin. If there was to be a tragic loss of life at a Shreveport parade, would the local festivities be strong enough to keep going. Would the economic boost of East Texas and Arkansas participation take a hit? Why are we even risking it?
Someone thought that these rules, or laws (maybe?), were a good idea. But apparently no one thinks we should follow them anymore. So if that's going to be the case, I say shut the parades down, and save a life.