JP officials review Carnival rules as 23 float riders get booted

JP officials review Carnival rules as 23 float riders get booted

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish officials are reviewing Carnival rules after a couple of incidents which they say are not in keeping with recent improvements.

In one case, 23 people were ejected from a krewe for inappropriate throws, but some say more needs to be done.

One woman said she brought her two 7-year-olds to Sunday night's Metairie parade, expecting beads, trinkets and plush toys.

"My daughter went, 'mama playdoh!' And I looked at them and said', that's not playdoh,'" Cheryl Ledbetter said.

What Ledbetter and scores of other Corps du Napoleon parade-goers got instead were urine drug test kits in resealable cups.

"It's Mardi Gras. It's meant for the kids. It's meant to be trinkets, not urine specimens," Ledbetter said.

The unauthorized throws fly in the face of ongoing efforts to improve Jefferson Parish parades.

"They were stopped and told to stop throwing them," said Jefferson Parish Mardi Gras coordinator Sean Burke, who is also director of Citizen Affairs.

He took action Sunday night. Now, the krewe captain has gone even further.

"Corps De Napoleon, they got rid of the 23 riders - they're out," Burke said.

But people throwing specimen bottles weren't the only thing marring Metairie parade routes this year. Two people allege they were beaten by deputies in two separate incidents after parades.

"I always thought cops would be on my side," said alleged victim Brady Becker.

Two float riders fell from floats on Fat Tuesday. And around the same time, another float in the truck parade was ejected because riders were fighting.

"I made the call to have the float removed. We're not going to tolerate it," Burke said.

The incidents come as the parish takes steps to improve parade quality. A contest, designed to boost band participation, appears to be working. It pays winners $3,000.

"It's a sense of pride. They can say we were first place against all these other bands," Burke said.

There is also a mandatory minimum of 200 riders.

"We had great crowds for the parades and we're seeing more people come out to Jefferson Parish, which is a positive," Burke said.

Ledbetter would like to see even more enforcement.

"There needs to be many more," she said. "It wasn't just an isolated incident."

And Jefferson Parish officials say they will review this year's Carnival to see if new ordinances are needed to make things better next year. Though the number of Jefferson Parish parades is down from 12 to 9, ridership is up. The parish also saw the introduction this year of a new all-female parade, Athena.

And though 23 float riders have now been removed from the Corps de Napoleon, throws like the specimen kits aren't technically against parish ordinances - but it is something officials say they will take a look at.

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