Thursday, January 30, 2014

Atlas shrugging

If you're over, say, 30 years old, this probably looks really weird to you.
Murray said he wanted to knock down rumors that Atlas’ decision was a ridership issue, saying the organization still has 300 members, but he conceded that number has been as high as 400 since Hurricane Katrina and is a far cry from the 600 members the krewe had 25 years ago.

The parade, he said, would have had 15 floats this year and was scheduled to roll on a Sunday, rather than its traditional Friday slot.

Murray joined the list of Mardi Gras watchers noting that Jefferson’s offerings are suffering in comparison with those of New Orleans.

“I personally think it’s because of New Orleans,” he said. “When you talk Mardi Gras, you talk New Orleans. I’m not saying it’s all the press, but they build up Mardi Gras in New Orleans more than Jefferson Parish.”

Hardy said that while the reasons for the decline in Jefferson parades aren’t entirely clear, “certainly Veterans Boulevard is not as attractive (to riders) as St. Charles Avenue. Everyone wants to parade on St. Charles Avenue.”
When I was growing up, an article like this would read exactly the opposite. Everyone was going to the Metairie parades while the old folks would worry about the future of parades in Orleans Parish.  It wasn't that anyone thought the main event parades were in trouble since there would always be plenty of tourists to play to. But these concerns about ridership and the appeal of Veterans vs. St. Charles Avenue for the membership of smaller krewes were 180 degrees the other way.

I'm, of course, an Orleans partisan, but I don't think it bodes particularly well for Carnival in general that only one parish's (and really, one route in particular) attracts enough interest to sustain parading organizations.  Seeing the main events of a regional celebration confined to such a narrowly defined space is probably not a healthy sign.

It probably also says something about the relative wealth and "vitality" of the city vs its suburbs which, itself, would surprise the hell out of anyone old enough to remember the heyday of Metairie parades as well.

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