|NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Mitch Landrieu today called the 2015 Mardi Gras season a “resounding success” and thanked the NOPD, public employees, Carnival krewes and the people of New Orleans for helping make it all possible.
“Mardi Gras is the single event that transmits the authenticity of New Orleans to the world,” said Mayor Landrieu. “We come together each year to do something better than anyone else and that is to celebrate the biggest free show on earth. This year’s Carnival was second to none, and it was a resounding success. Thank you to Carnival krewes for putting on amazing shows, and thank you to the people of this great city for your cooperation and enthusiasm throughout Mardi Gras. I especially want to thank the hard-working men and women of the police department who were all hands on deck throughout Carnival season. The New Orleans Police Department handles major events and crowd control better than any police department in the country.”
In total, about 4,500 dedicated public employees, over 1,000 Sewage & Water Board employees and 160 airport employees serve the people of New Orleans, many of whom directly or indirectly help with Mardi Gras festivities – working around the clock to plan, protect, execute and clean up.
“There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into the joy that people see in the streets. Mardi Gras is a team effort, but I want to especially thank the employees of the City of New Orleans who kept our parade routes safe and clean,” said Mayor Landrieu. “We began the 2015 Carnival season expecting challenges with traffic and construction, but we had good plans in place and the public was cooperative and patient. The success of Mardi Gras also largely depends on the City returning the streets to normalcy and cleanliness as soon as possible, so I thank the people of New Orleans for their cooperation.”
In the coming days, the cleanup effort will continue as parade viewing stands and public portable toilets are removed.
SAFETY – POLICE
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) provided strong security coverage during the 2015 Carnival season, from Feb. 6 to Feb. 17. Every officer was on duty and working, with a majority of officers either putting in 12-hour shifts in a police district or a minimum of 8-hour shifts along the parade route. During the 12-day period, NOPD put in a total of 58,090 manpower hours compared to 55,700 in 2014.
"Our officers put in long hours over the past 12 days and did an outstanding job of ensuring the safety of our residents and visitors along the parade route and across the city. With the help of our local, state and federal partners, we executed a strong security plan that led to a safe and successful Carnival season,” said NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison.
NOPD was complemented by 150 Louisiana State Police Troopers, along with members of partners law enforcement agencies, including: Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, UNO Police, Tulane University Police, Louisiana Department of Corrections, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
In total, the NOPD made 443 arrests in the Eighth District and along the parade route compared to 501 during the 2014 Mardi Gras season. In the NOPD Eighth District alone, which includes the French Quarter, Marigny, and Central Business District, officers responded to approximately 3,250 calls for service and made 366 arrests, compared to 2,900 calls for service and 421 arrests during the Mardi Gras 2014 season. The arrest numbers in the Eighth District represent a continued decline in the number of arrests made in the past four years during the Carnival season thanks to strong police presence and cooperation from the public. In addition, solid police work and proactive patrolling led police to make a total of 16 gun arrests and take a total of 14 guns off the streets.
SAFETY – FIRE & EMS
The New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) responded to 1,414 fire and medical calls for service during the Mardi Gras season including nine working structure fires. The NOFD also inspected 34 parades, which included: 792 traditional floats, 175 truck floats and 312 parade flambeauxes. The department also inspected 88 mobile food vendors for compliance. The NOFD also distributed over 22,000 cups, as parade throws, promoting the department’s “Free Smoke Alarm Installation Program.” NOFD members also worked alongside Sanitation Department personnel, providing traffic safety during post-parade debris removal. NOFD also created a barricade group to manage the positioning and removal of barricades before and after parades.
New Orleans EMS responded to 2,367 emergency service calls, resulting in a call every six minutes – the department’s busiest Carnival season to date. In conjunction with the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) Medical Reserve Corps, they also operated three First Aid stations over three days and provided foot patrols during parades. In total, NOHD assisted 138 people and provided care to 47 people during Mardi Gras, 22 of which were transported by EMS.
For the 2015 Mardi Gras season, the Department of Sanitation utilized 118 pieces of equipment and more than 600 City workers, temporary workers, and contractor employees to clean up the streets and neutral grounds following parades each day. All of these laborers worked tremendously hard to return the city streets to normalcy. In general, all routes were cleaned within three hours of the conclusion of a parade.
“The City’s Sanitation Department and its partners did an outstanding job coordinating one of the best and quickest cleanup operations yet,” said Ava Rodgers, deputy chief administrative officer for operations. “Our cleaning crews worked very long nights to take on an incredibly challenging task. Their dedication to the people of New Orleans is commendable, and we sincerely thank them for what they do. As cleanup efforts continue, we ask for the public’s patience and understanding.”
For the second consecutive year, the City used Mardi Gras clean-up to provide employment opportunities for ex-offenders and the chronically hard to employ. In 2014, the City made up to 50 clean-up jobs available for these groups per parade night. Based on the success of last year, the City tripled the program, making up to 150 jobs available per night during the 2015 Carnival season. In addition to the job for Carnival season, participants received training in how to search for a job and workplace expectations.
The total tonnage of debris cleared off the streets during Mardi Gras will be announced next week. The City also no longer views success by tonnage of debris collected, especially as the City continues to promote recycling. Residents may bring Mardi Gras beads for recycling to the City’s Sanitation Yard, located at 2829 Elysian Fields Ave., on Feb. 21 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There are also several local non-profits that accept Mardi Gras beads for recycling.
The City placed 650 portable toilets along the parade routes for Mardi Gras this year, and they are scheduled to be removed by Friday, Feb. 20. The City also issued close to 300 permits for reviewing stands, concessions and parking. All City-constructed viewing stands will be fully disassembled by Friday, Feb. 27.
To keep residents and visitors fully informed this Mardi Gras season, the City once again utilized a Mardi Gras Information and Updates website at www.nola.gov/mardigras. The site provided residents and visitors with safety regulations, enforcement policies, permitting information, and helpful suggestions, including interactive parade maps. The website received more than 10,000 views in the 30 days before Fat Tuesday.
In addition to permanent No Parking signs posted along parade routes, the City installed approximately 4,000 temporary No Parking signs. Parking on either side of Napoleon Avenue between Tchoupitoulas Street and South Claiborne Avenue was prohibited two hours before and after any Mardi Gras parade whose route travelled on Napoleon Avenue. Parking was also prohibited on either side of St. Charles Avenue between Napoleon Avenue and Canal Street two hours before or after any Mardi Gras parade whose route travels on St. Charles Avenue. The City monitored parking very closely so that First Responders and the public had clear access to the public right of way and to facilitate the clearing of debris by Sanitation crews following parades.
The City issued 22,475 citations, booted 553 vehicles and towed 799 vehicles on parade days. In 2014, the City issued 18,816 citations, booted 497 vehicles and towed 847 vehicles on parade days.
Over the Mardi Gras holiday, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport saw a six-year high number of passengers traveling through the airport. Over an eight day period beginning Friday, Feb. 13 through Friday, Feb. 20, 2015, the airport expects to have over 139,000 passengers depart, a 2.5 percent increase over 2014 and a 37 percent increase over 2010. Over 20,000 passengers are scheduled to depart New Orleans on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, as the Mardi Gras season comes to a close.
The President’s Day holiday gave many visitors a three-day weekend to enjoy the Mardi Gras festivities, so occupancy was high. According to a survey of New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau member hotels, hotel occupancy was over 97 percent for the second weekend of Mardi Gras, with many hotels at 100 percent. Revelers also extended their visits as occupancy remained high through Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras has about a $500 million economic impact on New Orleans, according to a 2014 Tulane University economic impact study.
“2015 Mardi Gras proved once again to be the authentic and iconic celebration that both visitors and locals of all ages have enjoyed for over a hundred years,” said Mark Romig, President and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC). “This year also saw an extended period of wonderful parade-going weather, which added to the enjoyment of watching the magnificent floats, marching bands and costumes. Finally, New Orleans’ Mardi Gras helps support the 81,000 jobs in the hospitality industry. As an annual festival, Mardi Gras is one of our most important economic engines.”