SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux said progress is being made between the city and its two largest Mardi Gras krewes, Centaur and Gemini, with their parades.
Arceneaux said the city is willing to compromise on some issues, but not public safety.
“Having the parades at night is simply not something that the city is willing to do,” said Arceneaux.
It’s due to the two shootings that occurred near the Krewe of Gemini’s parade route last year, one proving to be fatal, and the assault of a Shreveport Police officer at the hands of a parade goer.
“[Shreveport] police were very unhappy with the level of public safety that was provided at last year’s parades,” Arceneaux said. “We didn’t feel that we had enough officers on the streets to make necessary arrests last year.”
Last week, letters were exchanged between the city and the krewes as they work to iron out a new contract for the parades to roll next year. In the city’s letter to the Krewes’ captains, Ricky Bridges and Thomas Wyche; Mayor Arceneaux said the Krewes were being, “dismissive of the proposed contracts”.
But over the weekend and into Monday talks began to progress.
“I’m hopeful that we will be able to come to a consensus,” said the mayor.
One of the agreements, according to Arceneaux, is the parades can begin at Lake Street and head onto Clyde Fant Parkway. It’s the same staging area and route the parades have traveled for years. The city tried to shorten the parade route due to law enforcement staffing. The city proposed the parades begin at Stoner Avenue, not downtown.
Arceneaux says having two parades, The African American History and the Krewe of Centaur, each rolling on February 3rd remains an issue because law enforcement staffing is still 60 officers short. He said the city has already leaned on the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, the City Marshall’s Office, and Louisiana State Police for additional law enforcement officers.
“We used to have 300 officers that were available to work this parade, we now have fewer than 200. It’s a 5.5-mile parade, so it requires a great deal of public safety consideration,” he said.
Louisiana’s Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser has been vocal about the proposed changes, backing the krewes. In a recent radio interview, Nungesser said people from other countries come to Louisiana to experience Mardi Gras and a change of parade dates and times could affect tourism. Arceneaux said Nungesser did not have all the facts before issuing his comments.
“I would have preferred that he and I had spoken before he spoke out,” said Arceneaux.
He and the Lt. Governor have a meeting scheduled for September 29th, where Arceneaux says he anticipates the issues will be discussed.
Arceneaux said the city provides public safety for the parades, free of charge, at a cost of around $300,000 each year.
He said it’s a cost the city gladly takes on due to the economic impact and cultural significance of the events.