It has been billed as the greatest free show on earth and few would question the great times experienced by participating in Mardi Gras. but, is it really free and what do we have to gain from it?
Even with the challenges of Hurricane Katrina, many will travel to our corner of the map to experience a New Orleans tradition that is universally known as great food, drink and a good time. We call it Mardi Gras and St. Charles Parish will be part of the celebration as well.
Cars, trucks, campers, and trailers will be lining streets in Luling and Des Allemands all week in anticipation for this Saturday’s annual track of the Krewe of Lul and the rolling of the Krewe of Allemands. Two local traditions that each year are anxiously awaited by many. It has become as much a part of our heritage as the stately mansions that dot the River Road.
Mardi Gras in the City has become increasingly vulgar and this year, with such devastation, there is a great deal of uncertainty about city services needed to provide adequate protection to visitors. Low crime rate and community pride are the missing ingredient necessary for a comfortable Mardi Gras family outing. But, just how free is Mardi Gras?
Those who ride in the parade fork out serious bucks just for the experience of having thousands of friends and neighbors cheering them on. The cost of designing, maintaining, equipping, and insuring a float isn’t cheap either and the cost continues to climb.
In addition to those costs, we will all have to foot the bill for an additional forty or so sheriff’s deputies to pull extra duty insuring all goes smooth and safe. Ambulances will be placed on stand by with paramedics ready to respond at a moment’s notice to any medical needs.
Department of Public works crews will be there before hand erecting barricades to block off parade routes and afterwards cleaning up the tons of trash left behind. Fire departments will be assigning crews to block off areas just in case. The list goes on and on. And with each service comes a cost associated with it, a cost that will have to be paid by you and I, the taxpayers.
So, besides a good time, what’s in it for us? With millions of tourist dollars passing through St. Charles Parish daily, it seems natural that we would want to find some way to entice these travelers to stay and spend. Here in St. Charles Parish, we have much to offer to the tourism industry. Destrehan and Ormond Plantations, picturesque wetlands, and abundant wildlife are the very reasons many choose the metro area as their vacation destination in the first place.
With the best of all of these things within our boundaries, there is more than just potential here. There is a whole new industry open for the taking. Our Mardi Gras parades can and do have a strong economic impact on a community and with all we have to offer, this could mean a stronger and more diverse tax base. There is no question about it. These are local traditions we can be proud of and which can have a huge impact on our local economy.