Opening weekend of Carnival successful, though smaller
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Some Uptown businesses say the first big weekend of carnival went well, but they miss the old days.
Along Magazine Street, new routes meant smaller crowds and new logistical challenges. However, the reviews were generally good.
“It felt amazing. I felt there was a little more life in the city,” said Alyssa Johnson, with Undergrowth Coffee.
Crowds were reported to be large at Napoleon and St. Charles Avenues, but thin elsewhere.
“I don’t think they were big as normal. It didn’t feel claustrophobic out there,” said Marshall Love of New Orleans.
“The concerns I heard from captains had nothing to do with COVID. It was crime and the fact we got through this weekend without problems is a real plus,” said Mardi Gras Guide publisher Arthur Hardy.
Hardy says there were big hold-ups for Friday night’s parades all forming up in the same spot near Prytania and Napoleon.
“Bottom line is the Allah parade didn’t start till 9:01 p.m. and they didn’t get to disband until 1 p.m. and that’s unacceptable,” said Hardy. “The late parade is dangerous. The longer they are out there waiting the more problems that can develop.”
Under the new Mardi Gras route configurations, a four-block portion of Napoleon Avenue is no longer part of the parade route and some businesses on Magazine Street say that hurt their bottom line.
“It’s been bad for us,” said Sasha Salk of Tal’s Restaurant.
“I felt like there was less concentration of people than we experienced in the past,” said Johnson.
Other challenges included “No Parking” signs beginning at 9 a.m. on Magazine Street instead of two hours before the parade.
“We get a lot of questions about ‘can I park here, will my car be towed?’ I don’t feel I should be speaking about that because I’ll be held personally responsible,” said Salk.
Then, there are COVID restrictions, with New Orleans still requiring proof of vaccination and masks indoors.
“It’s absolutely impossible... and even a mandate that everybody in a parade be vaccinated, it’s impossible to enforce,” said Hardy.
In spite of some snags, most were glad to be catching beads again after a two-year COVID break.
“So much fun, it’s great to be on the streets and interacting with people,” said Salk.
And they are looking forward to more fun during Carnival’s final week, with hopefully fewer snags.
Hardy says the reports he got from the North Shore indicated they had some of the largest crowds ever. He says many people have been waiting a long time and he says some stayed on the North Shore due to crime concerns in the city.
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