Carnival Season will be back in full force this year in New Orleans.
City leaders have announced that all Mardi Gras parades will return to their full, traditional routes this month, something that hasn’t happened since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we reflect on the safe, fun, and friendly 2022 Carnival Season, the City of New Orleans is committed to continuing that momentum in 2023 to ensure yet another successful Carnival Season,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a release. “The returning of our beloved Mardi Gras parades to their original routes symbolizes the great cultural, economic, and historical significance Carnival Season has for our great city.”
Parades had been canceled during the pandemic, returning last year with shortened routes due primarily to the shrinking headcount in the police department. Law enforcement is needed to provide security during the parades and direct traffic from the countless blocked streets.
But Cantrell and krewe leaders noted that the city was able to round up the 150 extra officers needed from throughout Louisiana to pitch in throughout the month and provide the necessary security.
“The smile on my face,” Cantrell told NOLA.com. “Lord, have mercy.”
Season Is Underway
Carnival Season has already started and runs through most of February. There are more than six dozen parades during that time, and with the full routes restored, they should hit all of the neighborhoods that are used to the celebration and its economic benefits.
“I was elated,” said Stephen Gogreve, proprietor of Henry’s Uptown Bar in New Orleans. “It’s really going to help us out a lot.”
That is key to businesses, he said, but the return of a full Mardi Gras has a greater meaning outside the city.
Staci Rosenberg, founder and captain of Muses, said the announcement “should symbolize to the city and the world that New Orleans is back.”
In a 2014 study, professor Toni Weiss from Tulane University showed the economic impacts of Mardi Gras, both directly and indirectly, to be in the neighborhood of $465 million.
That is particularly important to New Orleans Councilmember Lesli Harris, who represents a district in the city where many of the parades take place. But it means so much more, Harris said.
“The Mardi Gras Season embodies the magic of New Orleans,” Harris said. “It allows us briefly to look past our everyday challenges — from trash collection to potholes — and revel in tradition, with immeasurable benefits to residents and businesses.”
State officials are thrilled as well at the full return of Carnival Season.
“We are so pleased that everything has been resolved to provide security that will allow all krewes to parade on their original routes,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. “This will certainly allow more residents and visitors to experience all that Mardi Gras has to offer. I’m looking forward to record-breaking numbers in New Orleans and throughout the State of Louisiana for Mardi Gras.”
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