Mardi Gras

Where do discarded Mardi Gras beads go? In New Orleans, it’s the sewers and drains.

Harrison County Sand Beach employees Wayne Malley, left, and Randy Tiblier, right, wade through knee high Mardi Gras bead boxes while picking up garbage in the median by the lighthouse on U.S. 90 in Biloxi on Wednesday morning. Gulf Coast cities say they vacuum up stray beads and trash to avoid having them go down sewer and runoff drains.
Harrison County Sand Beach employees Wayne Malley, left, and Randy Tiblier, right, wade through knee high Mardi Gras bead boxes while picking up garbage in the median by the lighthouse on U.S. 90 in Biloxi on Wednesday morning. Gulf Coast cities say they vacuum up stray beads and trash to avoid having them go down sewer and runoff drains. Sun Herald File 2003

The popular Mardi Gras catch phrase “Throw me something, mister,” is synonymous with Carnival. But this Mardi Gras season, New Orleans officials are hoping “mister” doesn’t throw them in the city’s ditches.

The Advocate reports New Orleans on Thursday completed a 120-day catch basin cleanup effort that brought in quite a haul — almost 100,000 pounds of Mardi Gras beads, which is about 46 tons.

According to The Advocate, the beads were part of about 7.2 million pounds of debris that had been clogging drains in the city.

NOLA.com reports the cleanup was part of a $22 million emergency cleanup plan that was passed by the city council after the August 2017 flooding. Part of the plan included $7 million to unclog 15,000 catch basins, according to NOLA.com.

New Orleans proper plays host to about 40 parades for the 2018 Carnival season.

As parades begin to roll on the Coast, city officials say they’re not overly concerned about discarded beads creating drainage issues.

Biloxi hosts two of the Coast’s largest parades, the Gulf Coast Carnival Association Parade on Fat Tuesday and the Krewe of Neptune night parade.

“The GCCA parade is 2.3 miles long and the Neptune parade is just a tad shorter,” said Biloxi community affairs director Vincent Creel. “These parades attract a lot of people that generate a lot of waste, but our public works department begins the cleanup the morning after the parade — they are out there on Ash Wednesday cleaning up.”

Creel said the Mardi Gras waste has not been an burden on the city’s drainage system.

“Regardless of how much you clean, we still have the remnants of Mardi Gras throughout the year, mostly in beads hanging from the oak trees in Biloxi.”

Gulfport Public Information Officer Chris Vignes said the waste is also not an issue in Gulfport.

“There are two things that are always going to be here on the Coast — oak trees and remnants of Mardi Gras beads,” Vignes said.

Vignes said Gulfport public works begins cleanup immediately following the parade.

“They have a piece of equipment called a MadVac that sucks the beads and debris up and disposes of them,” he said. “It’s almost like public works is a dance line at the end of the parade, because the cleanup begins as soon as the parade ends.”

See parade maps for the entire season at www.sunherald.com/entertainment/mardi-gras/maps.

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