JP Mardi Gras has fewer parades, new restrictions


Posted on February 14, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 7:42 AM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

METAIRIE, La. -- Grandstands are going up along Veteran's Boulevard in Metairie. Lil' Rascals, the first Mardi Gras parade of the year here, will roll on Sunday.

It will be a lean Carnival season in Jefferson Parish this year. The Krewes of Atlas, Thor, and Atlantis in East Jefferson are not rolling this year.

"I think that the parades on the Eastbank that dropped out, it was because of lack of membership over the years," said Jefferson Parish Councilmember Cynthia Lee-Sheng. "(They) were sort of scrambling for riders at the last minute to fill the required seats."

Lee-Sheng pushed for stricter rules governing Mardi Gras parades in the parish, including requiring a minimum number of riders.

"We were trying to look at the quality of the parades," said Lee-Sheng. "We want people masked. We want people in costume. We want to do those things that uphold the traditions of Carnival, and I think that are important."

Because they'll be fewer krewes moving down Veterans Boulevard in Jefferson Parish this year there will not be a parade on Sunday during the parish's annual Family Gras celebration.

"We would love to have it," said Family Gras producer Greg Buisson. "That is part of what Family Gras was all about. I think we'll have it back next year. But this year, the concerts will go on and it will be a festival day instead."

While the parade will be a no-show, Wilson-Phillips, Montgomery-Gentry and Blood, Sweat and Tears are just some of the acts expected to take the stage on the final day of Family Gras.

Both Buisson and Lee-Sheng say despite some temporary setbacks, Mardi Gras has a bright future in Jefferson Parish.

"I think we're on the cusp of our Carnival in Jefferson Parish really having a resurgence and coming back and being able to have some vibrancy to it, that people will see a different kind of Carnival," said Buisson. "We've got several organizations, already talking to us about unique kinds of parades for next year, unique themed ideas, unique use of floats, unique use of bands."

"I think we're in a contracting phase right now, and I think in time, you'll see more krewes organize and we'll see some new leadership," said Lee-Sheng. "We kind of asked ourselves the question, Is it better to have a smaller number of parades with a higher quality?  Most people, I think, would agree, that the ones that you have on, you want them to be strong parades. You want a good show for your citizens."

Lil' Rascals rolls Sunday at noon in Metairie.