As another weekend of nasty weather in New Orleans threatens another slate of Mardi Gras parades, a change in venue might also be on the table for krewes.
Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni said Wednesday that he has had queries from multiple New Orleans Mardi Gras krewes, asking if their parades could roll in Jefferson Parish if necessary. Multiple inches of rain, strong wind and thunderstorm are expected throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
After buzz about possible rescheduling on Tuesday, New Orleans police announced that all parades would roll on their scheduled days, but times could be changed.
"I've had some discussions with a couple captains candidly, just saying that … 'if we had to move, could we talk to you?' I said 'we're open to anything,' " Yenni said in a press briefing. "I'd have to get with our sheriff's department to make sure we could accommodate that. … but if we can help put on Mardi Gras, we certainly want to do so."
Yenni said it would take at least a day's notice to pull off schedule changes "flawlessly," and would not specify a day or time, but said Jefferson Parish krewes would be accommodated first with any shifting schedules.
The Krewe of Isis will move its Saturday parade to Monday night if Jefferson Parish officials decide the weather calls for it, Parish Presiden…
"Obviously it's something that those captains will have to decide and we'll have to see if we can place them," Yenni said. "But of course the priority would go to our Jefferson Parish parading organizations on where they would want to go first."
Orleans krewes rolling in Jefferson is rare, but not unprecedented. In 1979 New Orleans Mayor Dutch Morial, the New Orleans City Council and the majority of Carnival captains voluntarily called off all parades in New Orleans rather than give in to wage demands made by Teamsters Union members of the New Orleans Police Department. The matter was eventually settled in the city’s favor but not until after the Carnival season. A few krewes that year opted to roll in Jefferson, according to The New Orleans Advocate's Mardi Gras expert, Arthur Hardy.
Word began spreading Tuesday morning that the superkrewe Endymion, which is scheduled to roll at 4:15 p.m. Saturday on its traditional Mid-City route, was exploring the possibility of changing the date of its parade in light of the weather forecast.
But Endymion President Dan Kelly said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison called him to explain that public safety department heads had met and discussed the alternatives and there could be no such adjustments. It's unknown if Endymion was one of the krewes that reached out to Jefferson Parish.
“The chief has a very big responsibility and he had to worry about everything the city had to put together. It was not just our krewe, but every other krewe,” Kelly said. “We’re very appreciative to be able to go through the city of New Orleans, and that’s what we plan on doing.”
Asked what their preference would have been, Kelly replied, “Our position was we wanted to parade any time we could. Understandably, the city made the decision they did and we have to abide by it.
"We’ve got 5,000 raincoats coming, and we’re going to make the best of it.”
Kelly said Endymion’s 3,160 riders will pray for good weather, adding, “I know I’m going to St. Ann’s (Church and National Shrine) to light more candles.”
He said there was still hope the expected thunderstorms could materialize later or not at all, and that in any event, the Endymion Extravaganza would go on inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Saturday.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said in a news release Tuesday afternoon that all parades will roll on their assigned days this weekend. …
“Naturally, if the weather is terrible, we will not parade,” he said. “But we’re hoping things will change between now and then.”
Endymion rolled on the Uptown route because of Hurricane Katrina and the post-storm reconstruction in 2006 and 2007. It was moved to follow Bacchus on Sunday on the Uptown route due to rain in 2011.
Yenni said a big factor in rescheduling parades is level of "out-of-town" ridership, which complicates rescheduling. Whether floats and tractors will be available, most of which are rented, also creates difficulties for any shifting New Orleans and Jefferson krewes.
The parish would also have to work with the sheriff's office on any route changes due to the size of certain krewes, he said.
"From what New Orleans is saying right now, everybody will parade as is. But will that actually happen? Will at the last minute will there be a shift? I don't know," Yenni said.
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