Monday, December 5, 2005

No Zulu....No Mardi Gras

Zulu may not roll if city doesn't let Krewe parade along traditional route

10:37 AM CST on Monday, December 5, 2005

Ben Lemoine / WWL-TV Reporter

One of the oldest carnival krewes in the city has decided it will parade this Mardi Gras, even after the majority of its members were displaced by Katrina.

But Zulu officials said the decision is far from final and they may have a battle with City Hall before they know for sure.

For the past 90 years, only two World Wars and a police strike could keep the Krewe of Zulu off the streets of New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. This year, it may be the streets themselves that bring the tradition to a grinding halt.

In the city's scaled back Mardi Gras effort that would maximize the placement of police officers and travel a route safe from debris, all krewes would basically go from St. Charles at Napoleon Ave. to Canal St. and then to the Convention Center. But Zulu's traditional route went down Claiborne and Jackson Ave. and onto Orleans and Galvez St.

City officials have said they do not have enough money to stage police along the traditional, longer routes, and some of those areas could be dangerous because of storm debris.

Zulu krewe officials said eliminating those areas is a deal breaker.

“That's the stipulation that we made; that we're going to parade, but it must be on our traditional route. Which we know goes contrary to what's been approved by the city,” said krewe spokesman Charles Hamilton.

For the krewe, whose den was destroyed by floodwater and most members scattered around the country, it came down to a vote Sunday night.

"Obviously the biggest factor is financial. I mean, we're dealing with folks who have lost everything, 80% of our club has been impacted as a result of the storm,” said Naaman Stuart. So it's difficult to ask a guy to choose between Mardi Gras and repairing his home.”

At a town hall meeting in Atlanta Saturday, Mayor Nagin had a difficult time defending the decision of other city leaders to go ahead with Mardi Gras in such turbulent times.

“They are of the mindset that if we have a Mardi Gras, things are going to be okay. I argued against it,” Nagin said.

But the argument made by some was that Mardi Gras will bring a much needed morale boost. For Zulu, it all depends on a discussion with city officials and krewe officials said they may sit this Carnival season out if they can't do it the way they always have.

"If there's no discussion, then we won't ride; it's just how it has to be,” Hamilton said.

Zulu members plan to request a route change some time this week.

Now look, I am one of the few black people that was all for Mardi Gras taking place because I knew the city really needs any amount of tax revenue we can get at the moment. We got to bring in some dollars to start getting some things done.
However, if Zulu doesn't get to roll through the ghetto and decide not to march, this will be a racist decision by the city and I will have to protest. The truth of the matter is that all the asshole, drunk, pissing in the street type of people hangout in the French Quarter because they are tourist. You don't need allot of police in the hood for Mardi Gras. I don't remember seeing that many anyway. Our safety never was that big of a concern to begin with. If the mayor, and the other community leaders want "us" to come home, they better give us the only parade that actually lets the ghetto participate. Black people from New Orleans will never forgive the city if Rex, Bacchus, and Endymion gets to roll and Zulu doesn't. It's bad enough they flooded out our history. Now they are trying to make excuses to get rid of our tradition.

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