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Arthur Hardy's Annual Mardi Gras Wrap Up
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Lisa
Posted: Feb 14 2008, 09:30 AM


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MARDI GRAS 2008 REVIEW and Commentary
Posted: February 13, 2008

By Arthur Hardy

One week ago was Fat Tuesday and most of us involved have not yet caught our collective breaths. I think we had a good, solid and fairly normal Mardi Gras that more closely resembled pre-K Carnivals than the 2006 and 2007 versions in terms of the quantity and quality of events. In spite of some contrary views, I believe crowds were down slightly. For the third year in a row, parade goers seemed to be calmer. Hotel occupancy was solid, but we have 7,000 fewer rooms that we did in 2005. What makes Mardi Gras 2008 so difficult to evaluate are the things over which we had no control: the early date which kept visitors away, especially college kids; the Eli Manning Super Bowl coinciding with the Bacchus parade; Super Tuesday presidential primaries which kept the media away; the horrible weather on two of ten parade nights; and the random shooting along and near parade routes—an extremely serious problem from a safety and PR standpoint.

FAT TUESDAY
This year’s Rex made history by not using his scepter on the king’s float and by ascending from this throne and dancing at the Mayor’s request at Gallier Hall. Reactions ranged by “what a hip king!” to “there goes 136 years of tradition.” (By custom, Rex never stands up on his float.) There was no controversy over the LSU Band’s appearance in the parade, which was universally praised. It was also nice to see the Tulane Band in their brand new uniforms.

The biggest news of the day, other than the 79-degree weather and 30 mile-an- hour winds, was the breakdowns in the Zulu parade, which delayed their parade and that of Rex and the Elks Orleanians and the Crescent City Truck Parade. Who is responsible for these problems and what can be done to correct them?

Zulu proved in 2007 that it could start on time and roll smoothly, even though it usually includes more than 100 units (113 this year). Certainly Zulu and other krewes can shave the number of units within the parade to keep them moving in a more timely fashion. Zulu was on the street more than seven hours. In can be argued that Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus are sometimes bigger than Zulu, but they do not have parades that follow them.

Zulu is unique in that, in addition to its regular members, rider positions on floats are sold to non-members. Some claim that these floats are being overbooked and that the floats cannot accommodate the extra weight (coconuts are heavy). Would that explain the ten flat tires and the one wheel that came off? Bottom line is that these problems have a far-ranging impact. They also damage Zulu’s good reputation and that of float builder Blaine Kern, who certainly knows how to put super krewes on the street.

Because of the inordinate number of float breakdowns this year in this parade and others, look for the N.O. City Council to enact new ordinances that limit the number of parade elements and that fine krewes for breakdowns.

MEDIA
I was particularly proud of my association with WDSU Channel 6. The station went all out this year, providing coverage of every major parade in four parishes and live shots from ten locations on Fat Tuesday. Channel 6 also broadcast live from the balls of Zulu, Endymion, Bacchus, Orpheus, and from the gay Satyricon ball. The WDSU website live-streamed more than two dozen parades and received thank-you e-mails from locals still dislocated after the hurricane, as well as from shut-ins. Visitors to WDSU.com from all over the world looked at about 375,000 pages of content on Fat Tuesday. Hats off to WDSU Webmaster Bryan Harris who made this happen.

NICE
• Endymion parade and Samedi Gras return to Mid-City
• Renovation of Rex den and memorabilia display
• Virtually no mention of Katrina in parade themes and float titles
• Original Illinois Club returns
• Hulk Hogan proved a great Bacchus and spent a day at Childrens’ Hospital visiting the kids
• Return of Atlas, Gladiators parades
• Birth of Lakeview walking club Krewe of Brid
• Krewe of Bes debuts on Fat Tuesday in Gretna
• Sidney Torres again cleaned the Quarter
• Orpheus honored Torres as one of its monarchs
• Tributes to Herb Jancke, former Rex Temple Brown, Harry Lee
• Growth of Family Gras, despite the rain
• Mardi Gras Mambo Mask contest a success
• Krewe of Cork continues to grow
• Float builder Phil Fricano purchased a fleet of new tractors
• Alla Gras and Alla’s 12th Night parade becomes an annual tradition
• Twin African American debs presented at Rex ball
• Adonis and Choctaw’s wise move to the first Saturday of the season.
• PPP’s return (partially) to its St. Charles Avenue route
• Best parade to roll too late—Muses
• One parade that should not have rolled in rain—Oshun
• Best parade not to roll at all -Chaos
• Jeff Parish Parade Coordinator Karen Wood modified the new Veterans parade route in response to residents along Bonnabel Blvd. and workers at the Clearview Shopping Center
• Zulu mounted a display of memorabilia and costumes at the Lakeside Mall
• NOPD allowed parades to return to their line-up areas on Napoleon near Claiborne Avenue.

NOT NICE
• Tragic death of Endymion float rider
• The city's electrical inspector came down hard on float builders and krewe captains with the new and ever-changing code enforcement rules
• Municipal Auditorium is still closed to Carnival balls
• Crowds were small and very casually dressed at Gallier Hall
• Marking off of territory along parade routes, to the exclusion of others who also want to see the parade, must be addressed. Public property belongs to everyone.
• Shortage of tractor drivers caused problems with rescheduled parades
• Lack of flambeaux carriers
• New tradition of throwing things at the final floats in Bacchus has to stop
• Cleopatra notified the media of its parade cancellation before the NOPD was informed
• Krewe duVieux crossed the line with its savage lampooning of Senator David Vitter

DID YOU KNOW?
• Pontchartrain featured a camel in its parade
• Babylon’s rained out night parade rolled during the day, the first time since 1955
• LSU and Saints players and coaches were honored in several parades, but the N. O. Hornets, who were in town for most of the parade season, were not
• Thoth members who were caught with their masks off were thrown out of the club three days after the parade rolled
• Several krewes now require riders to sign waivers acknowledging the city’s ordinance against drinking alcohol aboard the floats

KREWE MERCHANDISE
• Muses and Tucks continue to lead in the quality and quantity of logo items
• Orpheus threw 2.5 inch doubloons, the largest ever.
• On Fat Tuesday, a bidder on eBay paid $77 for a Rex boeuf gras bead
• Funds from the sale of Rex’s new Frisbees go to help public schools
• Bacchus collectors can get a set of 40 mini-doubloons representing each king by buying the club’s 40th anniversary poster
• Chaos, Muses and D’Etat again thrilled collectors who wish to have permanent records of their floats by issuing cards (Chaos), liner notes (Muses) and a Carnival Bulletin (D’Etat). The Chaos pieces will be very collectible since the parade did not roll.

NEXT YEAR FAT TUESDAY IS FEBRUARY 24, 2009

COMING TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12
 
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Erica
Posted: Feb 14 2008, 11:40 PM


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Does anyone know how the Endymion rider died? ohmy.gif

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stacey
Posted: Feb 15 2008, 12:35 AM


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Kinda...it is blurry because there was actually someone else who died during/after a parade. From what I can gather the rider was getting off of one of the really big floats, several people had already gotten off and then the float started to move, he fell and got run over. 2nd time during that parade/gala someone has died. some one died at the actual gala, fell from the plaza level at the superdome trying to catch beads.

the other person, well his brother ran over him with one of the tractors I guess.....I think that one happened in Slidell or on the Westbank. Lisa do you remember?

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