In response to one person's question, "What is this all about? Looks absolutely terrible," a representative for Bayou Boogaloo replied, "Safety first."
Other signs declare the popular walking/biking path on the Jefferson Davis St. side of the bayou to be closed for seven days - through the Tuesday following the festival.
Gambit attempted to contact Bayou Boogaloo director Jared Zeller this afternoon. His voicemail box was full,
and no one from the festival has responded to an email.*
* EDITED TO ADD: Tonight Bayou Boogaloo posted the following message on its Facebook page:
We have been reading your comments and we understand your frustration with the ONE section of fence. The reason why we haven't responded immediately is because we have been on the phone with city hall most of the afternoon as well as fielding some media calls. We know that is hard to understand why we made this decision knowing that it would be unpopular. This evening, we spent some time watching people jog and walk their dogs along the fence. We know that a chain link fence is ugly. We never wanted to do this or pay for it. However, there are two sides to everything, correct? Our conversations will continue with the City to come up with a solution. Please remember that what you have come to love about Bayou St. John over the last ten years is in part due to our efforts. There would not be 8 towering live oaks that replaced the ones lost to previous storms and there wouldn't be a beautiful work of art that was created from a tree struck by lightning. The last thing we want is to keep our neighbors out. We are your neighbors, we live in these neighborhoods.
UPDATE 2: Late Tuesday night, District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who represents the Bayou St. John area, tweeted that the fence never was approved by her office, and called for its removal:
Criticism on the event's Facebook page from neighbors and attendees was strong:
What is the deal with all these fences? Isn't this a free festival?
Why are fences going up to keep people (mostly neighbors of the bayou) from enjoying the festival from the other side of the bank?!?! This is infuriating! Isn't this a free festival?!?! The neighbors of Boogaloo often spend more money with vendors inside since we like to attend all three days. That monstrosity of an eyesore is making my neighbors and I uninterested in even going this year.
Fencing off the Boogaloo will limit patrons' access to the festival, increase the hassle and congestion getting flotation devices onto the bayou. This will decrease attendance and you'll lose money. Boogaloo is my favorite event in the city but it won't be worth attending if I'm restricted from my favorite areas. Ditch the fence- you're losing friends and losing money.
I do not like that fence. Part of what has made this festival so great in the past is the ability to set up on that side of the water, not be around the big crowds, and enjoy watching people BBQ and laugh and come together. The fence is a terrible and divisive idea. One that makes the festival it less appealing to attend.
And that's not counting the Donald Trump/fence meme.
We'll update the story when we hear back from Bayou Boogaloo. Our preview of the event ishere