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Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Just as important in a second line as brass bands and floats are the vendors who roll alongside them. That's according to those who lined a route in Central City Sunday. And some believe proposed changes to the way those vendors do business could change the city's culture.

'I'm candy man, I love this,' said Tony Barnes, better known as 'Candy Man.' Barnes sells sweets daily, and crowds flock to his cart at events like Sunday's second line.

'This is how I live. This what I do,' smiled Barnes.

But Barnes fears proposed restrictions on vendors at second lines could drive some of them away.

'Anytime you implement something new, it's always going to have an effect, a side effect,' said Barnes. 'It's going to take away from some of the people coming out and doing their little weekly sales or whatever. It's going to affect them. They're already hollering. Everybody's crying.'

If passed, the city's new rules would require vendors to dish up $25 for a permit. They would have to get separate permits from the state and city to sell alcohol. Vendors would also have to bring trash cans and display pricing. It's stirring mixed emotions.

'Second line for one thing is black culture. For one thing. Let's get that straight,' said Edward Darby, who sells water at second lines to help a non-profit for children. 'The city cannot stop people's culture. They're nicking at it a little bit at a time. It ain't going to work.'

'It's alright they want to tax us, we ain't got no problem with that,' said Walter Phillips, of the Prince of Wales Social Aid and Pleasure Club. 'But they can't ban this because we've been doing this for years.'

Many at Sunday's second line believe imposing restrictions on vendors would take away part of a culture that's been around for decades.

Abraham Johnson, founder of Brothers of Change Social Aid and Pleasure Club, has collected about two pages of signatures so far, in an effort to stop the proposed changes from going through.

'I'm doing this petition because I'm trying to save my culture, something I've been doing for 30 years,' said Johnson.

But the Landrieu administration believes those changes could actually help vendors.

'The vendors that go along with those parades are also a valuable part of that culture. The administration under Mayor [Mitch] Landrieu worked with those vendors to create a permit that allows them to vend during parades as any vendor does in parades around the city,' said Scott Hutcheson, the mayor's advisor on cultural economy.

Meanwhile, Barnes, who already has a permit since he sells daily, wonders if the proposed regulations will open the door to even more rules in the future.

'I would hope in the future that something great would come out of it,' said Barnes. 'I'm [hoping it's not] $25 this year and then next year it be a ridiculous price. That's the part I'm scared of.'

District B Councilwoman Diana Bajoie is sponsoring the proposed ordinance, which was drafted by the Landrieu administration. The council was originally set to vote on it last Thursday. But Bajoie decided to defer the vote until the next meeting on October 4. She plans to make some changes to the proposal.

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