NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans plans to have a full Mardi Gras celebration in 2022, but will be tweaking some of its parade routes in an effort at public safety.
A shortage of police officers will cause most routes to be shortened by several blocks at the least and quite a few blocks at most, but nearly all parades will be starting and ending close to where they normally would.
“We are absolutely thrilled. Nobody wants to give any particular concessions, but this is a very fair and easy way to ensure that Mardi Gras happens,” said James Reiss of the Rex organization.
All parades starting Uptown will begin on Napoleon and Prytania or Napoleon and Carondelet before heading to St. Charles Avenue, bypassing the early Magazine Street neighborhood part of the routes.
Three parades whose routes are traditionally different from the other parades will be able to keep their normal starting spots. Endymion will remain in Mid-City and head downtown but will not go down St. Charles Avenue to pass Gallier Hall.
Zulu will begin at its traditional Jackson Avenue and Claiborne start but will take the same route it did in 2020, bypassing the area they avoided that year due to the Hard Rock site problems, but still going to its traditional neighborhoods.
"We are ecstatic about the return of Carnival," said Elroy James of Zulu. "It's important that we put on Mardi Gras 2022, but it's important that we do it in a safe and responsible way."
NOMTOC, which traditionally parades in Algiers, will do so again, but its route is being adjusted slightly.
The full routes will be out later Tuesday.
"This is not permanent," said NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson. "This is something we will have to take a look at every year."
"No krewe was moved from its traditional day," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. "Every parade was asked to make some accommodations. No one is being singled out. No one is being given special treatment.
Cantrell said Endymion was thrilled to keep its Mid-City start and was fine with adjusting to bypassing the small part of St. Charles Avenue that it traditionally traversed.
"The main thing (she heard from them) was 'Thank you for keeping us in Mid-City.' What they wanted most was their route in Mid-City."
Here are the changes:
Parade Route Changes
• All parades which start on the river side of Napoleon Ave., Jefferson Ave. and Magazine St., Tchoupitoulas St. and Henry Clay St. will this year form at Napoleon Avenue and Prytania Street.
• Parades that form on Napoleon Ave. and S. Saratoga St. will this year form at Napoleon Ave. and Carondelet St.
• Parades that form at Holiday Dr. and Fiesta St. will this year form at Wall Blvd and Holiday Dr.
• Endymion will remain on its original route with the following modifications:
• Turning right onto Elks Pl/Loyola Ave. instead of turning right onto St. Charles Ave.
• Turning right onto Girod St. from Loyola Ave. and proceeding to the rear of the Superdome
• Endymion’s current route is over 5 miles long, while the average Uptown parade route is only 4 miles
Zulu will remain on its original route, with the following modifications:
• After passing Gallier Hall, Zulu will turn left onto Poydras St. and right onto Loyola Ave.
• Zulu will then continue its original Basin St. route. Rex will remain on its original route with the following modification:
Rex will start on Napoleon Ave and Carondelet St. instead of S. Claiborne Ave. and Napoleon Ave. Elks and Crescent City will stay on their original route, which permits them to turn left onto Poydras St. from St. Charles Ave. and continue straight on Poydras St. to disband.
The City of New Orleans has not had Mardi Gras season parading since 2020, when the annual celebration was believed to have been a super spreader event for COVID and made New Orleans one of the United States' initial hot spots.
In addition to COVID, the city has been facing a reduction in the number of officers on the force. A Halloween parade, the Krewe of Boo, actually had a last minute change in route that shortened the parade due to a lack of officers needed to keep the route safe.