Jefferson Parish’s oldest Carnival parading organization and its only remaining West Bank krewe both face the revocation of their parade permits for failing to field enough riders or floats when they rolled earlier this year.
The krewes of Zeus and Adonis will lose their spots in Jefferson’s parade calendar for next year if the revocation notices are upheld on appeal. They would be the first krewes to have their permits revoked under an ordinance governing Carnival parades in the parish that was put in place in 2009.
Parish Community Affairs Director Sean Burke, whose job includes enforcing the ordinance, said the revocations are unfortunate but necessary to uphold the parish’s rules, which are in place to ensure krewes meet minimum standards. Those standards have been a source of controversy, but Burke said they’re needed because of the amount of money the parish has to spend on public safety and other issues surrounding the parades.
“It’s one of those parts of the job you don’t like because Carnival’s a great time, a fun time,” Burke said.
Both krewes will be able to appeal the loss of their permits, initially through the parish’s administrative hearing process and potentially through the courts, Burke said.
Adonis Co-captain Mary Dufresne said her krewe will appeal the revocation of its permit. Parish officials said the group had only about 150 riders this year, about three-quarters of the number it was required to have under the ordinance.
Dufresne said several problems this year prevented the krewe from meeting that goal, including the failure of one busload of riders to make it to the staging area before the parade rolled. Also, she said, a group of students from St. Michael Special School, a special needs school, were on floats but did not appear in photographic evidence collected by parish officials.
She acknowledged, though, that even had those riders been counted, the krewe might still have fallen just short of the needed 200 riders.
“I’m fighting (the revocation) because we really, really want to stay on the West Bank and we really want to stay in Jefferson Parish,” Dufresne said.
Zeus is accused of two violations, each of which would be enough to prevent it from rolling next year. The krewe had only two marching bands in its 2014 parade, three short of the minimum set by the ordinance. The krewe can be fined $500 for each band it was missing, and three violations of that type would result in a permit suspension.
The krewe also is accused of having too few floats in its parade. The parish requires each parade to have at least 10 floats, not including floats for the captain, grand marshal or royalty. Zeus’ initial parade plans called for 12 floats, but it rolled with just 11, including floats for the king and grand marshal. Representatives of the krewe have argued the king’s float, which carried 10 masked riders, should have counted toward its total, even though the ordinance prohibits that, Burke said.
Zeus officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
In 2009, 14 krewes were authorized to hold Mardi Gras parades in Jefferson Parish, but the number has dwindled since then. Of the parish’s four West Bank krewes, three — Alla, Choctaw and Cleopatra — have moved to the more popular Uptown route in New Orleans. Jefferson’s east bank parades have largely stayed put, though the Krewe of Rhea dropped out of the schedule in 2011 after declining bingo revenue led to financial issues and some of its leadership faced serious health issues.
The revocation of Zeus’ and Adonis’ permits would leave just nine Carnival parades in Jefferson, all of them on the east bank. And that total includes Thor and Atlas, two established krewes that canceled their parades this year, and Guardians of Atlantis, which was supposed to roll for the first time in 2014 but dropped out last summer.
A new organization, the all-female African-American Krewe of Athena, has applied to parade for the first time on the east bank next year; the Parish Council will consider its application at an upcoming meeting, Burke said. Another group has indicated it is trying to gather support to roll in 2016, he said.
Dufresne said Adonis’ membership issues have been exacerbated by the departure of other krewes from the West Bank, which she said led many people to believe her organization would be moving as well. That dissuaded some potential riders who didn’t want to travel to the east bank for the parade.
“We have some people very interested in building us back up on the West Bank,” she said.
While the revocation of a permit does not bar an organization from applying again in the future, keeping its Jefferson Parish permit in place could be crucial for Adonis, which also has to get a permit from New Orleans for the Algiers portion of its route. With Orleans permits difficult to get, being denied a permit for even a year could mean the krewe would lose its ability to roll in Algiers, she said.
Although she said she’s not against parade regulations in general, Dufresne said some of Jefferson’s requirements go too far.
“I think some of the ordinances are a little too strict,” she said.