New Orleans preps for Mardi Gras with earlier curfew, extra street sweepers


Posted on February 8, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 9 at 8:13 AM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - All eyes will soon be on New Orleans as the annual Mardi Gras celebration heats up this weekend.

City leaders are now pulling out all the stops to make sure everyone passes a good time.

"There are lots of rules and regulations, but the general ones are simple," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "Be civil. Be respectful. Follow the rules and be courteous to your fellow parade goers."

Wednesday, the mayor met with representatives from agencies involved in making sure Carnival is not only fun, but safe.

This is the first year with an earlier curfew for those under 17 in the French Quarter and Marigny.

"The French Quarter curfew is now 8 o'clock and please rest assured, we look for curfew to protect children and then also to protect them from hurting anyone else," said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

Serpas says while much his department will be patrolling along the parade route, there will be plenty of extra protection throughout the city.

"The three shifts are collapsed into two 12-hour shifts, which means two-thirds of the officers who work in the districts work half of the day each and one-third comes out and does the parade route support," said Serpas.

This year the city is hiring some extra people to help clean up after a parade passes.

The city plans to utilize more than 300 temporary employees and nearly 100 pieces of heavy equipment including six sweepers currently on their way from Chicago," said Deputy Mayor of Operations Michelle Thomas.

"Please don't bring you kitchen, your living room, your bedroom set, and your next door neighbors furniture to Endymion neutral ground. We work with Parks and Parkways and we remove stuff like that," the police chief said.

This year most police officers will be wearing reflective vests, so they will be easy to spot during an emergency.

"If a police officer walks up to you and asks you to move, based on prior experience as a teenager, I would encourage you to move," said Mayor Landrieu.

There will also be a small army of plain clothes cops along the parade route and in the French Quarter to help stop trouble before it starts.