New Metairie Mardi Gras route angers residents


As of this year, all Metairie parades, except the ones on Mardi Gras day, will line up on Bonnabel Blvd. The route change has led to heavy traffic and angry residents Photo credit: Sam Lucio

Sam Lucio

Metairie’s shift in parade routes caused controversy despite the spirit of the Mardi Gras season.

In the past, parades in Metairie would line up outside of Clearview Mall and end near Winn-Dixie. However, this year, Metairie parades, except for the ones on Mardi Gras day, have changed their route and now line up on Bonnabel Blvd.

The change in route has led to traffic issues and angered many residents like single mother, Susan Settoon.

“Its stupid, its really stupid the way that they have planned,” Susan Settoon said about the new parade route.

Settoon said she has found it difficult to navigate around her neighborhood, especially since the parades start in front of her house.

“I had to drop my daughter off in New Orleans to march in a day parade,” Settoon said. “When I came back, the parade was lined up and there was no way to get across to my house. I had to park on the other side of Bonnabel and walk to my house.”

Vanessa Hanon, another Metairie resident, said that while she has expected there to be traffic, she said she didn’t expect a drive that normally takes a couple of minutes to last nearly an hour.

“I’ve experienced parade traffic before but it never felt like it was really that bad,” Hanon said.

Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, who represents Metairie, said the decision was sparked by many krewes leaving and others slowly losing their members. To ease the situation, Jefferson Parish formed the Carnival Congress to hear from captains of krewes, business people and people from the community to find a solution.

“Anything that we thought might improve the carnival experience for the people watching the parade or riding in the parade, that was the goal to make some changes that we thought might reinvigorate Carnival,” Van Vrancken said.

Van Vrancken said the group pitched changing the route due to families complaints about how the parades would reach their house while their children were already asleep.

According to Van Vrancken, changing the parade routes will not only put a greater emphasis on Metairie families but also will the allow parades to finish near Family Gras, a festival at Clearview Mall.

“We said what if at the end of the route, the parade could roll into family gras cause there’s a whole crowd of people there that have been watching the musical acts and they then get to turn around and see the parade,” Van Vrancken said.

However, not every Metairie resident feels the same optimism that Van Vrancken feels. Nearly 1,200 people have signed a petition requesting that the old Mardi Gras parade route be brought back.

Settoon confirmed that she is one of the people who have signed the petition because she said she believes Bonnabel Blvd. can not handle so many floats, bands and other Mardi Gras extravaganza’s.

“Where the parades start in New Orleans, it’s in the middle of a neighborhood. Where the parades start in Slidell, it’s in a school’s parking lot. Where the parades start on the West Bank, it’s in a parking lot,” Settoon said. “It’s everywhere it’s okay for a bunch of people to be, here it’s not.”

While Van Vrancken said she understands the frustration from residents she she said believes the new route has advantages the old route did not.

“Change is always hard, so I always expect that when change is made there are going to be people who are more hesitant about that change,” Van Vrancken said. “We will continue to try to improve how people are able to navigate around that area.”

In the meantime, Metairie residents like Hanon will have to adjust to the new Metairie Mardi Gras.

“I refuse to hang out with people if something is happening during a parade time because I just don’t want to deal with the traffic,” said Hanon.