Carnival celebrations may not happen at Gallier Hall - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Carnival celebrations may not happen at Gallier Hall

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The City of New Orleans is considering moving Carnival celebrations away from Gallier Hall because of concerns over parade-goers' safety.

For more than 140 years, Gallier Hall has served as the backdrop for Carnival festivities.

Carnival historian Errol Laborde explains, “In 1872, the very first Rex parade, one of the visitors in New Orleans was the Grand Duke of Lexus and he saw that parade at Gallier Hall, and since then, any dignitary that's come by, has seen it there.”

Every year, the mayor of the city toasts the kings of Rex and Zulu at the hall. But that may not happen for Mardi Gras 2015.

City Councilman Jason Williams says, “A large piece of stone fell from the top facade of the hall.”

The crumbling began in August, and since then, other pieces of the exterior have become loose. Water seeping in behind the facades is causing the mortar to crack and fall off. The city recently barricaded the front portion of Gallier to protect pedestrians.

“I'm concerned. Caution tells me and everything about public safety tells me that I need to do a comprehensive evaluation of the entire facade to determine how serious it is,” said Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant.

Grant says that concern will most likely force the city to move Carnival celebrations, but they won't be canceled. “You can rest assured, there will be a Mardi Gras and it'll be in the vicinity of Gallier Hall,” Grant said.

Laborde thinks it's important to keep the celebration close to the building. “Gallier Hall is the ceremonial capital of the city,” Laborde said.

As the Landrieu administration works to determine where to set up viewing stands around the hall, Williams says other questions linger - like how much will it cost to repair the 160-year-old building, and where will the money come from?

Williams says right now, the City Council's priority is funding the police department, public safety and infrastructure needs. Williams explains, “We're not going to take any money away from those things to fix this historic building, but we will as soon as possible work to make sure we can put it back to its previous glory.”

But Williams says that won't happen before Carnival.

Gallier Hall has previously undergone three facade restorations. The most recent one was in 1984.

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