People Get Ready

[ make levees, not war ]

Wal-Mart Mardi Gras?

Posted by schroeder915 on December 8, 2005

The Times-Picayune:

For the first time in Carnival’s 150-year history, city and krewe leaders will seek corporate sponsors to underwrite the huge cost of staging “the greatest free show on Earth.”

Any acceptable company that steps forward with $2 million to help pay for police overtime, fire protection and sanitation during next year’s abbreviated eight-day Carnival will be crowned the “official sponsor of Mardi Gras 2006,” Mayor Ray Nagin’s office said.

I am extremely dismayed by the news that New Orleans may seek a corporate Carnival season sponsor. Sure, Krewes can’t use throws that have advertising on them — yet! But advertising on bead necklaces and cups will surely follow if the idea of hanging corporate sponsorship ads all over the city is allowed, as will corporate party stages and events all along the parade route.

Sure, I understand that extra police and trash pick-up services (not mutually exclusive) cost the city as much as $5 million a year, but the city raises $45 million a year in tax revenue, of which $25 million goes directly to the city. So what’s the problem?

I know — some Uptown parents can get downright ornery and possessive about their little roped-off space along the parade route, and the ladder situation right up against the barricades has gotten a little ridiculous. The police ought to crack down on those problems, but they aren’t the problems that cost the city so much money. It’s the out-of-town Spring break party trash and obnoxious drunks closer to the French Quarter who cause most of the problems — the people who don’t appreciate the deeper roots and the more modest fun of the Carnival parade season found in families and neighbors getting together to celebrate the city they love.

That is the spirit of the Carnival season that I know and appreciate — a last bastion of virtuous (yes, virtuous) community values as yet unspoiled by commercialism and base exhibitionism. You won’t find anyone raising shirts Uptown. Anyone who tries is instantly shamed by the crowd.

What people around the rest of the country don’t know is that the best place to see a Carnival parade, and to get a real sense of what New Orleans is about, is in the family turf Uptown. I fear New Orleans may lose that family spirit if advertising is allowed to spoil the celebration.

To be sure, Hurricane Katrina’s flooding physically destroyed most of New Orleans’ neighborhoods, but let’s not voluntarily destroy what remains of New Orleans’ unique neighborhood cultural charm by selling it off to the highest bidder. If that happens, there really won’t be much more worth salvaging of a city on its way to becoming another phony Disney World destination.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: