NEW ORLEANS - Mardi Gras season wasn't just a busy time for revelers, as the City of New Orleans parking enforcement was busy issuing tickets and booting cars.
Some violators told Eyewitness News they had no idea outstanding tickets even existed.
"The boot was actually right here when I came out of class. So unfortunately, I had to see that," said Erica Simmons. The SUNO student parks on Press Drive with other students all the time. To her horror, she recently discovered a boot on her yellow Scion after leaving campus.
"I assumed it would have to be over $500 or at least $1000 to be boot eligible. I didn't know I was, that scared me," said Simmons.
The boot was the city's way of letting her know she had two outstanding tickets. The Gentilly resident says the violations took her by surprise.
"I look around and actually see the van that's scanning license plates. They're booting more cars," said Simmons who watched as at least a dozen cars got slapped with hefty fines.
The City of New Orleans says it's enforcing a city law that's been on the books since 2009, even warning the public just before Mardi Gras that it would be beefing up patrols.
"We put out over 4,000 temporary signs, 2,000 permitting signs saying we were going to be towing along parade routes and where people were having safety violations," said New Orleans Deputy Mayor of Facilities and Infrastructure Cedric Grant.
"I pulled up here. I parked here. I was here for like less than 10 minutes. It was like they were following me," said Ray Nafziger. The Mid-City resident was parked outside his house last week when he stumbled across a boot on his car.
The city told him it was for a red light camera ticket he didn't know existed. Nafziger had to shell out about $300 to remove the boot and pay for the outstanding ticket.
"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. It was just one ticket. It was a camera ticket it wasn't even a parking ticket which adds to the infuriation," said Nafziger.
Similar frustration felt by Simmons who missed two classes to go to City Hall. She was forced to use her tax return to pay for the $610 bill that suddenly appeared on her front wheel.
"Extremely expensive lesson. I know better now but I think they should do a better job about sending notices out to people instead of automatically assuming everybody got it," said Simmons, adding both her car registration and driver's license have her current mailing address.
Eyewitness News obtained this year's Mardi Gras parking enforcement numbers from the City of New Orleans.
The city says it issued a total of 18,816 citations this year compared to 25,379 in 2013.
However the number of booted and towed cars did go up: the City says 497 vehicles were booted this year compared to 218 in 2013; while 847 were towed compared to 626 last year.