Officials cancel traditional Mardi Gras parades in Cenla, coming up with alternatives

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:00 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:37 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - “Throw me somethin’, mister.” It’s the popular catchphrase we all know and love.

Like so many other events in 2020 and now 2021, Mardi Gras is sure to look different this year.

We sat down with Alexandria’s very own “Mr. Mardi Gras” to see how the celebrations will look here at home.

“We have people that come to Alexandria for Mardi Gras from Canada all the way to Mexico and across the country, every year,” said President of the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association, Chris Chelette.

Mardi Gras officials like Chelette have had to re-think how to celebrate, starting first with the cancellation of the annual “Taste of Mardi Gras” event.

“There’s just no possible way to execute it this year and it is unfortunate,” said Cenla Restaurant Association President Scott Laliberte.

Then this announcement came from Chelette: “One of the best decisions we feel right now is to kind of cancel the parades right now.”

A decision was finally made, with safety in mind.

“We can really push out what can happen to the krewes, what happens to the people inside the parade, but it’s really hard to say and dictate what’s going to happen to the community on the outside of the barricades.”

President of the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association, Chris Chelette

Chelette said city officials are still throwing around a few ideas, such as a home decorating contest, some kind of virtual event or maybe even a reverse parade.

“We’ve looked at doing a reverse parade where we park the floats and you drive by those, we’ve looked at all aspects of it.”

Ideas that unfortunately won’t bring in the kind of revenue the city is used to getting during a regular Mardi Gras season.

“We usually bring in $3 million here in Alexandria. Even that $3 million, is that worth two, three lives and when we step back, working with the mayor hand in hand, it’s not worth that,” said Chelette.

It’s a blow to the tourism industry.

“Without ‘Taste of Mardi Gras,’ without our parades, I don’t anticipate a huge amount of travel or tourism this year through the carnival season in Alexandria.”

Cenla Restaurant Association President Scott Laliberte

But Chelette said safety this year will be key.

“At the end of the day do you want a thousand cases popping up in Alexandria because we had Mardi Gras? And that’s really what it comes down to.”

President of the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association, Chris Chelette

Chelette promised that the celebration will be bigger and better than ever before in 2022.

“It’s not worth it for us when we can put it off, plan even a bigger, better aspect for next year and just hit it twice as hard,” he said.

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