Mardi Gras

New Orleans krewes agree to limit bands, walking groups to reduce parade delays

New Orleans is hoping to run a slightly tighter ship this Carnival, asking krewes to pare down the number of bands, dance troupes and other walking groups in their lengthy processions to keep their parades from getting jammed up and delayed.

The city also is doing away with the extra turn that most parades on the Uptown route have taken up Canal Street before heading back toward the river. In this case, officials cite the potential need to get emergency services in and out of the area quickly.

That change is definite. The limit on walking groups is, for now, essentially a suggestion from Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration and the city’s Mardi Gras Advisory Council, which is made up of representatives of the various krewes, but most of the parades have agreed to it.

Officials say if the recommendations work well in the lead-up to Mardi Gras 2018 on Feb. 13, they could later be codified as law.

Krewes are being asked to limit the number of walking groups that lead off their parades or are interspersed between floats. Officials are asking that parades start with no more than a dozen groups — marching bands, dance troupes and unique organizations like the Rolling Elvi — before the first float, with one group following each float after that.

The limits came about after discussions with the various krewes and took into account the number of elements each parade has, city Homeland Security Director Aaron Miller said.

The recommendations came in response to the growing popularity of groups placed between the floats, whether on foot, horseback or other modes of conveyance, a trend that has led to longer parades and more potential for delays, Miller said.

The number of groups “was slowing down some of the parades and causing issues where we would have to hurry up the back of the parade to keep the parade on time,” Miller said.

Beyond tying up the streets, longer parades also mean longer hours for police and other first responders on duty and for the sanitation and Department of Public Works crews that follow up.

“The longer the parades go, the longer we’re out on the street,” Miller said. “We want to make sure we’re staying in some reasonable time frame.”

Mardi Gras expert Arthur Hardy, who publishes a yearly guide to Carnival, agreed that the changes could lead to a better overall experience.

“Parades are getting too long. Float riders and parade viewers are getting tired. If you’re riding at the back end of a parade, there’s no one to throw to because everyone’s left,” Hardy said. “More is not better. The thinking is that if we streamline the parades a little bit, it’ll be quality over quantity.”

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