The Rules of Mardi Gras

It’s been said that no one puts on Mardi Gras, instead it is barely contained. According to Arthur Hardy, citing a year 2000 economic impact report, the festival generates upwards of one billion dollars in annual spending. This containment is provided by all corners of the city, state and municipal government.

In 2003 an economic impact study showed that the City of New Orleans spent $4.7 million on Mardi Gras related services and earned $21.3 million in direct tax revenues.

Arthur Hardy

Constantly Costumed

An entire chapter in the City Municipal code, chapter 34, outlines city rules about Carnival and Mardi Gras.

  • Article I provides general definitions and establishes the all important task force that makes recommendations on rules.
  • Article II requires that permits are filed by August for the parade Krewes.
  • Articles III, IV and V provide specifications and rules for routes, floats, riders and throws.
  • Articles VI and VII cover rules for commercial permits including grandstands and food vendors.
  • Article VIII gives enforcement and penalty responsibility to the Police, Fire Department and City Permits department.

My favorite Mardi Gras rule states that masked riders must be anonymous on floats the entire time. I was told that the city has cameras and fines riders who take their masks off and was cited New Orleans Municipal Code Sec. 34-17. – Riders. (M.C.S., Ord. No. 19,314, § 1, 7-15-99) Chapter 34 covers Mardi Gras in general and ordinance 17 prescribes rules to riders. This was enacted through Mayor Council Series Ordinance Number 19,314, voted upon on Thu., July 15, 1999.

(a) No member of any carnival organization shall ride as a masker in public view in a float or mini-float parade unless he is constantly costumed and masked so as to disguise his facial characteristics. This provision shall not apply, however, to the king, queen, captain, maids, dukes, pages, attendants, or special guest celebrities of the organization in question.

However, the current code doesn’t have this section anymore. They cite, M.C.S. Ord. No. 25,661 enacted Thu., January 23, 2014.

Ladders and Dump Trucks

Current Mayor LaToya Cantrell appears to have led the big push for new Mardi Gras rules in 2014 when she was a councilwoman from District B. For instance, ladders had to be six feet from the curb and that no one could hold their spots with tarp or chairs outside a reasonable time before the parade.

The enactment of this year’s new parade rules began with the Community Development Committee. On Tue., Dec. 3, the committee made their recommendations to the City Council with some krewe captains in attendance. These rules concerned setting a hard four hour limit and encouraging environmental throws and plastic control. On Thu., Jan. 30 these rules were made formal in Ordinance 32,850, that you can read here. By tradition, it is the council member from our District B that takes the lead on this process.

While the 2014 regulations saw much and little in the way of enforcement, you can see the difference in tempting fate this Carnival 2020.

My campaign is all about clear education about how governance works. Please share and like my posts and vote for me on Sat., Apr. 4, 2020. This is how rules a written in our city. Have a safe and fun Mardi Gras!

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