New Orleans Krewes expect changes to parades in 2021 after two deaths

Louisiana

Whether the change is more barricades or something that blocks people from getting between floats, the krewes seem to agree that something needs to be done.

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — Carnival krewe leaders say they expect at least some changes next year after two deaths of spectators crushed by floats this year.

The deaths of Geraldine Carmouche at the Krewe of Nyx parade and Jos Sampson at the Endymion parade involved large, multi-part floats that are called tandem floats.

Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson immediately called for a ban on tandem floats for the remainder of the 2020 parades.

Ferguson was quick to add that the ban will not necessarily extend to the 2021 season, but Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that discussions would be had with krewe captains on how to make the parades, especially the larger ones with enormous floats, safer for all.

In addition to the tragic deaths, both parades were cut short after the incidents, leaving tens of thousands often confused as to what happened and float riders left with hundreds of dollars of throws that couldn’t be used.

Sonny Borey, the captain of the Krewe of Orpheus, one of the mega-parades that was affected, said that the splitting up of the floats “went great for Orpheus” even though the cost and work to separate the long floats, like the iconic Smokey Mary, was long.

A number of ideas are being talked about, including: increasing the number of barricades used, having security walk with the floats to dissuade over-aggressive spectators, changing the routes to only include the largest of streets, having all krewes take exactly the same routes and placing some type of barrier that would prevent people on the streets from getting in between the multi-part floats.

Bacchus Captain Clark Brennan said he would like to see barricades all along the route, though he realizes it will be expensive and could affect some krewe’s traditions.

“Let’s make some good judgment decisions and think about the decisions we make, because they do have a ripple effect,” Brennan said.

Elroy James, president of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, noted that his krewe would be affected if barricades line the route.

“Sometimes barricades create issues with respect to the coconuts,” he said. “We can’t throw (them).”

New Orleans City Council Vice President Jason Williams said he wants more than lawmakers involved in the decision-making process.

“This doesn’t need to be city leaders making this decision,” he said. “Get some citizens involved, some experts, engineers.”

Williams also offered the idea of having some type of barrier in the gaps between the tandem floats.

“Maybe a flexible guardrail between the tandem sections that could actually have a kill switch that would make the tractor stop if someone hit the guard rail.”

Williams said he isn’t in favor of putting all the parades on the same route, saying that many people build their Carnival seasons around the parades in their neighborhood.

District B Councilman Jay Banks, a former King Zulu, said the facts about the accidents also need to be considered before any permanent changes are made.

“We want to take a look at everything about the system to try to address them to make them all better,” Banks said

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