Jefferson’s Mardi Gras season parades would need fewer bands under proposal

The Krewe of Caesar parades through Metairie on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Chris Granger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
The Krewe of Caesar parades through Metairie on Feb. 4, 2018. (Photo by Chris Granger, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) (Photo by Chris Granger NOLA.com )

Mardi Gras season krewes have been struggling for 20 years or more to field enough marching bands to parade in Jefferson Parish. Now it might get a bit easier.

The Parish Council is scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 24) to consider relaxing the 10-band rule for new krewes and those that roll immediately before or after another procession. The goal, said Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, is to encourage more parades, especially on the Family Gras weekend 10 days before Fat Tuesday.

“Hiring bands is a costly proposition [for krewes], and if you are back-to-back with another krewe, you’re competing with them,” said Van Vrancken, whose district includes the Metairie parade route.

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Van Vrancken’s proposal would reduce the number of required bands for new krewes by two in their first year and one in their second year. Further, parades that run in succession would need two fewer bands.

The current band rule is being phased in; the target is nine per parade by 2019, rising to 10 in 2020. Van Vrancken’s proposal would drop the 2019 target to seven for new and back-to-back parades.

She said she’s offering incentives for new krewes, and for any krewe to parade during Family Gras, around which parish officials have been trying to concentrate parades instead of competing on the final weekend of Carnival for spectators in New Orleans. “How do we make the most of that weekend without going head-to-head with Endymion and Bacchus?” Van Vrancken said.

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The band proposal is one of many in an overhaul of Jefferson’s parade law. Another change would consider whether riders in truck parades must be masked, which is now required, if their faces are entirely painted.

Parish officials and krewe captains are still discussing route changes for 2019. No route changes are proposed at Wednesday’s council meeting.

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Drew Broach covers Jefferson Parish politics and education, plus other odds and ends, for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. Email: dbroach@nola.com. Facebook: Drew Broach TP. Twitter: drewbroach1. Google+: Drew Broach.