New Orleans: New Orleans experienced sunny weather that was warmer than usual, which helped to fuel the excitement of the street parties as the city celebrated Mardi Gras. The annual festival marks the climax of the Carnival season and is characterized by raucous crowds on Bourbon Street and family-friendly parades along St. Charles Avenue.
What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is a celebration that happens after the Christian holiday of Three Kings Day and before Ash Wednesday. It includes parades and parties, and the last day is called Fat Tuesday, which means people eat lots of fatty foods before they start fasting for Lent.
Incident during Mardi Gras event
The festivities began in the early hours of the morning in some parts of the city, with The North Side Skull and Bones Gang, a group of revelers dressed in skeleton costumes, waking people up for Mardi Gras in the Tremé area. By sunrise, parade-goers had already secured their spots along the parade route, and the aroma of barbecued food filled the Central Business District.
Despite a violent incident during a weekend parade that resulted in the death of a teenager and injuries to four others, including a 4-year-old girl, revelers were not deterred. Police arrested Mansour Mbodj, 21, for carrying a weapon illegally and upgraded the charge to second-degree murder. Officials emphasized that this was an isolated incident.
Roz Walker, 55, a resident of Baton Rouge, stated that she and her friend Tracy Dunbar were not going to let recent events discourage them from attending the parades of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club and the Rex Organization. They have been visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras for over 40 years and have never been involved in any situations like this before.
Ken Traylor from Houston was attending Mardi Gras for the first time, and despite being aware of the shooting, he did not seem concerned. He emphasized that it was important to be careful with one’s surroundings as incidents like this could happen anywhere nowadays.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has received criticism due to the rising crime rate, which has led to dissatisfaction among residents. Despite winning reelection easily in 2021, she has faced various political problems since then, including criticism of the slow pace of major street repairs and questions regarding her personal use of a city-owned French Quarter apartment.
As the Wednesday deadline for the recall petition, launched last year, approached, one of the organizers, Eileen Carter, expressed confidence in having enough signatures but planned to make a last-minute push. Carter mentioned that they would have individuals canvassing the parade routes, which has proved to be a useful tactic for them.
During the St. Charles Avenue parades, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was present in a restricted access reviewing stand with city council members in front of Gallier Hall, a 19th century Greek Revival style building that was once City Hall. Cantrell greeted leaders with traditional mayoral tributes of “Hail Zulu!” and “Hail Rex,” and there was no evidence of political discord.
This was a stark contrast to a previous incident where Cantrell was seen on social media making a middle-finger gesture as a parade passed a city reviewing stand during the weekend. The reason behind the gesture was unclear, and the mayor’s press office did not respond to requests of medias. However a statement given to The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate shed little light on the situation.
According to spokesperson Gregory Joseph, Mardi Gras is a time for satire and humor, and the city has been enjoying a safe celebration. Revelers in the French Quarter wore all sorts of costumes, from skimpy outfits to historical and current event-inspired attire. A couple from New Jersey, Jerome and Jennifer FitzGibbons, joined the festivities dressed as a Chinese spy balloon and said they loved the craziness of Mardi Gras.