NEW ORLEANS - Carnival is a lively tradition, and it’s an especially unique experience for those who live near the parade route.
“It's vibrant, it's loud, it's colorful. It's a lot of fun,” said Christine Carmody, who has lived a block from the Uptown parade route for eight years.
But one New Orleans councilwoman says sometimes the public safety concerns can put a damper on the fun. She's proposing new rules during Carnival parades in response to complaints from residents.
“That's what this is about. It's about safety and it is about having a quality experience during Carnival,” said District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell.
The proposed changes are still a work in progress. Cantrell received input from neighborhood leaders over the weekend and plans to meet with parading krewes and city officials before submitting a final draft to the City Council for a vote next month.
Among the proposed changes, grills and tents would be prohibited from intersections and the neutral ground. Neighbors have mixed reactions.
“They can have some rules, but let everybody have a good time. They barbecued back in the days and never had troubles. Why can't we do it now?” asked Patrick Sullivan, who lives near the Uptown route.
Ladders would be affected too. Right now, they must be as far from the curb as they are tall -- a rule that's difficult to enforce. Under the proposed regulations, all ladders would have to be the same distance from the curb, making enforcement easier.
“We have to remember it is a public safety issue if ladder tips and young person falls into the street,” said Cantrell.
“I definitely think the distance from the parade ladders to the floats should be set back. I do think we all seem to get too close to the floats, it could be dangerous,” said Carmody, who has two young children.
And the city would fine companies that place portable toilets on public property without permits or in the back of parked trucks under the proposed rules. Cantrell said she would encourage the city to provide more portable public toilets during parades.
“We've just been looking at ways to improve the experience,” said Cantrell.
“I think they should let the people bring portalets. It would save a lot of people from using the bathroom in the streets,” said Sullivan.
Another restriction has to do with parking. Right now people can park on one side of the parade route, but the restriction would prohibit parking on both sides of the street.
Some neighbors believe that would make the parking situation even worse on side streets, but others believe it could help improve public safety.
“I think it would open up the lanes for emergency vehicles, I think it would cut down on congestion," said Carmody. "I think that is a good idea."
Other proposals include limiting the weight of throws so that krewe members could not throw bags of beads, as well as cutting the number of parade permits from 34 to 30.
Cantrell said the city administration suggested reducing the number of parades through attrition, because so many krewes parade Uptown. Still, she points out that existing krewes would be grandfathered in and could continue to parade.
Cantrell said she plans to work with New Orleans police, neighbors, the City Council, the mayor’s office and city departments to vet the plan and come up with ways to strengthen and streamline enforcement.
This story was developed in conjunction with our partner, the Uptown Messenger. You can read more at www.UptownMessenger.com.