Immediately thereafter, both parades were canceled leaving spectators and riders in the lurch. While Endymion did not ultimately finish their parade, fortunately, Nyx members were able to ride after the Krewe of Pandora in Metairie several days later.
One potential reason for the accidents was the severe manpower shortage in the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD); however, the force reduction has been in effect for several years and similar problems did not occur. While barricades lining the entirety of all parade routes may have prevented the deaths, after the second accident, Mayor Cantrell decided to ban tandem floats, which rolled over both victims, for the last few days of Mardi Gras.
This move forced the remaining parades to scramble to find additional drivers and tractors. Hopefully, a better solution can be discovered for the next Mardi Gras celebration. Possibly, the area where the tandem floats connect can be covered in some way to prevent people from trying to cross. However, the spectator who died at Endymion was killed in an accident that could occur at any time during a parade.
Along with two deaths, there were two riders who fell from floats in the Krewe of Thoth. Also, two parade spectators fell from a balcony on St. Charles Avenue. Mercifully, none of these people died from their injuries. There were also multiple shootings, including a young baby shot by a grandfather, and a convict that escaped from Orleans Parish Prison.
All of this occurred while the Cantrell administration is still trying to find a way to remove the partially standing 18-story Hard Rock Hotel, which collapsed on October 12, 2019. This collapse is costing the City of New Orleans millions of dollars and forced the Mardi Gras parades to cut short their routes to avoid that section of Canal Street. This negatively impacted both the riders and spectators.
The partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel has caused the Cantrell administration continual headaches and embarrassment. It has been discovered that several city building inspectors did not actually visit the Hard Rock Hotel for their scheduled site visits. To make matters worse, the remains of two deceased workers are trapped among the ruins of the building. To say there will be lawsuits in the aftermath of this incident is an understatement.
Personally, the Mayor is dealing with an ongoing issue of unpaid federal taxes and regular complaints about everything from surging crime to incompetence at the Sewerage and Water Board.
It was a challenging Mardi Gras for a Mayor who is at the mid-way point of her term and is seeing her approval ratings fall, according to a recent poll. These vulnerabilities are leading local political analysts to predict the Mayor will face at least one major opponent when she seeks re-election in two years.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]