An online petition is calling for New Orleans to ban beads from Mardi Gras.
The petition, cites waste, pollution and clogged catch basins as major problems that have a simple solution: A bead-free parade.
“46 tons of beads pulled from out catch basins,” Aaron Viles, the petitions co-creator, said. “Of Course, that 46 tons wasn’t the entire Mardi Gras route, that was just five blocks.”
Viles said that when he saw that number he realized he had to do something. Especially after he learned about the toxic components in beads.
“They find mercury, lead, arsenic. Things that are really horrible and then of course these things end up in kids mouths,” Viles said. “If they don’t end up in the mouths they end up in the streets, they end up in the garbage, they end up in our catch basins. And they start steeping a toxic tea which ends up being dumped into Lake Pontchartrain.”
So far, the petition has more than 14,000 signatures. However, when we caught up with parade-goers on the Uptown route, they weren’t onboard with the idea.
“(Beads) represents New Orleans,” said Suzanna Gaudin, a New Orleans resident. “Sometimes if you come to New Orleans and you get off the airplane during Mardi Gras there’s a good chance somebody is going to give you some beads and say ‘Hey, welcome to New Orleans. Thanks for coming.’ … you’re banning a tradition too. I mean, I just think there’s a solution.”
Everyone we spoke with believe the petition addresses a real problem, but also believe there should be a better solution.
“It’s part of Mardi Gras. Yeah, this guy’s got a point, but there’s lots of things that aren’t good for you that we do anyway,” Douglas Lloyd said.
Beads are more than just trash, according to Danielle Geddis.
“Some of my favorite things are the beads trees that you see and the people who have them all along their fence posts,” Geddis, a Mandeville resident, said. “I mean, it’s Mardi Gras and it’s New Orleans. It’s what makes New Orleans the way it is I think. It makes us unique.”
To read or sign the petition, click here.