Friday, January 06, 2006

Mardi Gras 2006!

New Orleans kicks off post-Katrina Carnival season

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - The first Carnival season since Hurricane Katrina officially began in New Orleans on Friday, despite objections from people who say it is too soon to throw a Mardi Gras party in the battered city.

Mayor Ray Nagin said the decision to proceed with Mardi Gras, although with an abbreviated parade schedule, would send a message that the city was unified in its determination to rebuild.

"New Orleans will always be around and this is one further step in demonstrating that we are all coming together," he said.

In a downtown ceremony, Nagin said the kickoff of the Carnival season marked "an incredible day" that "speaks to this city's fortitude, its dedication, its wildness."

Carnival season, which includes elaborate formal balls and dozens of parades, officially begins 12 days after Christmas. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the celebration in New Orleans, and most of the city's Carnival krewes, as the parading organizations are known, have pledged to hold parades in 2006.

The city's decision to proceed with Carnival, which culminates on Fat Tuesday, February 28, has sparked protests among many displaced residents, who say it is inappropriate to celebrate Mardi Gras while a majority of the city's pre-Katrina population is still unable to return.

Nagin acknowledged their objections but made no apologies.

"We didn't get to this day without some controversy," he said. "And we have people that are still out there questioning whether we should have Mardi Gras this season. Well, guess what. Today we officially announce the beginning of the Mardi Gras season."


Economics played a part in the decision to celebrate Mardi Gras. Hurricane Katrina brought the lucrative New Orleans tourism and convention industry, which funds roughly one-third of the city's budget, to a halt. In normal years, Mardi Gras draws hundreds of thousands of visitors during the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday and pumps an estimated $1 billion into the local economy.

Marc - I wish I could go this year! I hope it is a success!

Read more here -
US News Article

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