Changes to Mardi Gras ladders, toilets and parking all under consideration for 2014 parades

New Orleanians could see clearer laws about the placement of ladders, more control over the locations of portable toilets, and more efforts to clear public spaces during and between Mardi Gras parades next year, based on a number of ideas Uptown residents discussed with their City Councilwoman on Saturday afternoon. The city already has laws governing parade-route conduct, but a lack of enforcement over the years has meant growing encroachment of shared spaces by “homesteaders,” as some Uptown residents called the people who stake out large areas of the sidewalk or neutral ground, roping off areas, erecting tents or creating a wall of ladders along the curb. City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell agreed with those residents Saturday that she would support more citations for violators, but the bulk of the discussion was on ways to increase voluntary compliance — leaving police to the more important public-safety functions like taking guns off the route. Among the ideas pitched:

Creating a fixed distance between ladders and the curb. Current law says ladders must be placed back as many feet as they are tall, a standard that literally changes from ladder to ladder.

Councilwoman Cantrell begins public discussion on next year’s Mardi Gras rules

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell — who took office just in time to get involved in the annual controversy about enforcement of city laws along Mardi Gras parade routes — will fulfill a promise for a more comprehensive review of changes that could be made next year this weekend, when she holds a public roundtable discussion on the issue. Cantrell has told several neighborhood associations lately that she plans to explore some changes, starting with reining in the furniture, ropes and ladders that can unfairly co-opt public space along the route and create safety issues. She also mentioned other issues, such as the placement of portable toilets or the use of moving trucks as rolling keg parties. “The Councilmember’s goal is to devise an ordinance that can be updated to properly ensure the safety of all citizens,” according to a recent notice from her office. Cantrell has already begun discussions with city agencies, and they have been receptive but want the full year to discuss, decide upon and implement any changes, she has said.

Milan residents thank police, councilwoman for Mardi Gras enforcement

Residents of the Milan neighborhood who in recent years have witnessed ever-larger crowds of “wall-to-wall drunken teenagers” gathering on Amelia Street during Mardi Gras parades thanked the police officers and city councilwoman who brought the problem to an abrupt end this year. During a Wednesday night meeting of the Milan Focus Group, Lt. Frank Young of the NOPD Sixth District and City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell were both on hand to update residents on their efforts in the neighborhood. But conversation returned several times to Amelia Street, where residents said thick crowds of young, heavily intoxicated teens have been gathering in growing numbers on parade nights in recent years. After several residents complained this year about fighting and an arson case, police brought officers on horseback and large floodlights onto the street, breaking up the crowds. The results brought praise from the residents, some of whom said they attended Wednesday’s meeting just for the chance to offer their thanks in person.

Owen Courreges: Trooper takedown

State Senator J.P. Morrell is not letting this go – nor should he. A month ago, a video was released showing the detention of two young black males, Sidney Newman, 17, and Ferdinand Hunt, 18, by eight plainclothes state troopers.  The video, taken on February 10, 2013 just after a parade, shows the two teens leaning against a wall in the 700 block of Conti Street.   Suddenly they are surrounded by State Troopers. One of the youths took a few steps away and was jumped, grabbed by his shirt and flung around to the ground.  The other is pushed up against a wall.  It was a very fast and violent confrontation between the teens and the troopers. As this is happening, a white male approaches on the sidewalk.  When he is close, one of the troopers stepped forward and started pointing for him to detour.  A second later, with very little time for the man to react, the trooper shoves the man with both hands, pushing him out into the street.

Councilwoman pledges to seek more enforcement of Mardi Gras safety laws

The use of public space on the Mardi Gras parade routes improved slightly this year, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said Wednesday night, but the city laws need to be reviewed starting now to make sure that less of the sidewalks and neutral grounds are unfairly co-opted by furniture, ropes and improperly-placed ladders. Parade-route conduct has long been a sore spot for some New Orleanians, and the proliferation of living-room furniture and portable toilets definitely seems to have worsened in recent years, said Cantrell, whose City Council district includes almost the entirety of the Uptown route. But her direct involvement as a councilwoman began just before the parades did, when she told a Gambit reporter that she had yet to hear from her new constituents specifically about that issue. Sure enough, she said, she began to hear from them almost immediately afterward. “It was a call to action, and then I began to hear from you,” Cantrell told members of the Bouligny Improvement Association, which represents the area just upriver of Napoleon Avenue between Magazine and St.

Police seeking new leads in Irish Channel robbery after Bacchus parade

A woman was robbed on Laurel Street in the Irish Channel on her way home after the Bacchus parade last week, and police are now looking for the public’s help turning up any additional information that may lead them to an arrest in the case, authorities said. Around 9:30 p.m. Feb. 10, a woman walking in the 2200 block of Laurel Street was approached by a stranger who pointed a gun at her head and said, “Give me what you’ve got,” said Lt. Frank Young of the NOPD Sixth District investigative unit. The woman told him she didn’t have anything on her, then yelled out for help, and the man ran off in downtown direction on Laurel Street, Young said. Responding officers stopped someone nearby who fit the description the victim gave — a slim, 5-foot-8 clean-shaven black man with a low haircut wearing a sweatshirt and blue jeans — but when they put his image in a photo lineup, the victim couldn’t positively identify him, Young said.

Jean-Paul Villere: Come Rain or Come Shine — My Top Five 2013 Mardi Gras Moments

So this Carnival wasn’t the sunniest, but at least it wasn’t the wettest (or coldest).  All told, it seemed to be a well attended, largely respectable gathering save for the obligatory Bourbon St shooting and other gun / parade infractions.  Unfortunate realities aside, personally my season rounded out into some a-has (3 involving my mother-in-law), otherwise just some observations worth noting:

(1) Napoleon triumphed.  Despite the pervasive drain work uprooting the neutral ground and Rex route, the powers that be kept a fairly tight rein over any possible public safety issues.  Quel surprise.  Kudos to said powers.  I can almost still hear the horns of the 18 wheeler truck parades, but really nothing can drown that out, except – – –

(2) Bad karaoke.  In the 2300 block of Napoleon post parade queue there sprouted a front porch party courtesy (from my lay outsider assessment) a Canadian one man band avec Alberta plates “PIANOMN.”  Pair awful classics like The Outfield’s Your Love with an auto-tuner, turn the volume to 11, and voila: instant auditory regret.  But hey, this was just my neighborhood; I hope yours was spared anything similar. (3) Millaudon.  Is nowhere near anything parade related.  But somehow my mother-in-law, a native New Orleanian mind you, had never heard of this little stretch in the Black Pearl.  Eyebrow raising information she shared while we were attending a Mardi Gras event there last week.  Moments later as Iko Iko played over the radio she looked at me quizzically and asked “I’m going to set your what on fire!?” (4) My grandma didn’t know she was supposed to set your flag on fire.  This was the second dumbstruck moment for me via my wife’s mother.  Again, her being a native, I didn’t know how to respond.  First Millaudon, now this!  Clearly holes in the fabric of the family I married into were surfacing.  What could possibly happen next, except maybe on Mardi Gras Day as Rex passed she offers – – –

(5) “This is the first time I’ve actually seen the King in Rex.”  Now come on!!  Buyer beware: those engaged to be wed to a local girl take heed my revelation some 15 years later.  Ask now: has your future mother-in-law ever seen Rex, scepter and all, even once?  Does she know the lyrics to Iko Iko, and is Millaudon at least a cursory name in her street vocab?  Important questions I never knew I needed knowing the answers to. All told, I loved this season.  Even if we donned a poncho once or twice.  Even if my carnival moments may be somewhat tame compared to others and heavy on in-law takeaways, but so what?  Mardi Gras means something different for everyone I think.  Just ask the Canadian with the auto-tuner. Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls.

Krewes of Zulu and Rex roll on Mardi Gras Day (photo gallery)

With the final day of Carnival mostly spared by rain yet again, the Krewe of Zulu greeted Uptown crowds early, followed by the Krewe of Rex’s presentation of “All Creatures Great and Small” to close out Fat Tuesday. The Krewe of Zulu

Krewe of Rex

See below for live coverage. Mardi Gras Day

Rainy Lundi Gras brings Carnival history lessons from Proteus, Orpheus

A misty evening made for light crowds on the Uptown route, but the Krewe of Orpheus proudly presented a tribute to bygone krewes in “The Unseen New Orleans Carnival,” and the Krewe of Orpheus recalled its own themes from the past 20 years of “Rhythm, Rhyme and Revelry.” Krewe of Proteus

Krewe of Orpheus

See below for live coverage. Krewes of Proteus and Orpheus

Two gun cases reported on Uptown parade route Sunday evening

Two more incidents involving the illegal possession of guns were reported while the Bacchus parade rolled Sunday evening on Uptown route, police reports show. The first was reported about 7 p.m. at St. Charles and Euterpe, and the second was reported around 9:30 p.m. around St. Charles and Erato, crime maps show. A total of 11 gun cases have now been made on St.