St. Charles Avenue is in danger of becoming another Bourbon Street. At least during Carnival it is. By that I mean that the clustering of Orleans Parish parades along the single St. Charles route is turning Uptown Carnival into a tourist-dominated "sacrifice zone" where the raucous spring break qualities of the season are drowning out its more traditional and.. dare I even say it... "family friendly" aspects.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there's no place for bawdy raucousness during Mardi Gras. Only that there's a pace to the ritual that is supposed to imbue the scene with meaning. Even if the city's many non (or at least severely lapsed) Catholics aren't strictly observing the pre-lenten tradition in its strictest sense, the locals at least attach a semblance of spiritual significance to what has, for them, always been a holiday season.
But penning the city-wide celebration in along a single and heavily touristed stretch of real estate dilutes the richness of the experience there and isolates it entirely from the neighborhoods where it should be organically nurtured. In a way, it's analogous to the leveeing of the Mississippi where relegating the flow to one designated course threatens to starve the land on the outside of its boundaries. I think it could be turning people off of Mardi Gras altogether.
Into this, then, comes this Louisiana Weekly article where Ryan Waldron presents several ideas for remedying this.
Yet, Waldron argued, Krewes outside of Uptown need not die a slow death. The spirit of a neighborhood-focused Mardi Gras can be reborn, providing a respite for the overwhelmed homeowners on St. Charles route. His four part plan involves Orleans officials bolstering an alternative major parade route in Mid-City, working with Jefferson and the other parishes to coordinate regional parade schedules, adjusting regulations to allow neighborhoods to hold much smaller Mardi Gras Krewe processions, and encouraging those neighborhoods to form “Krewes of their own”, something between marching clubs and small float processions, in the original Mardi Gras tradition.There's much more there so give it a look. As we start talking about drawing up a new set of Carnival ordinances most of Waldron's suggestions should at least be on the table.