2019 parades cost Jefferson Parish $1.6 million, outpacing inflation

Jefferson Parish made a major change in its 2019 parades, reversing the route for some Metairie processions. But one thing remained the same: The cost to taxpayers went up again, at a rate faster than inflation.

The government spent $1.6 million this year on 14 parades before, during and after the Mardi Gras season, according to public records released Wednesday (May 15). That’s a 5% increase from 2018.

The average parade in 2019 cost the public $117,490. In 2018, it was $111,882.

The numbers illustrate the growing cost of erecting signs and changing traffic signals, blocking streets, inspecting floats, enforcing rider regulations, policing the routes, providing medical services and collecting post-parade garbage, at a time when spectators, krewes and public officials pine for a more exciting spectacle. Decades ago, Jefferson hosted as many as 23 Carnival parades a year, and there is a widespread sense that the quality of many has declined along with the volume.

The newly released figures don’t include direct subsidies to the parading organizations. The Parish Council gives $10,000 to $25,000 to a handful of krewes to offset their expenses.

Much of the spending on Carnival comes from the private krewes themselves. Members pay dues and organize fundraisers to pay for the floats, costumes and throws.

But 16 local government agencies are used to make sure parades roll successfully. The biggest spending comes from the Sheriff’s Office – $327,584 this year – and the parish administration’s Citizens’ Affairs and Parkways departments, according to the records.

The public cost of Family Gras shot up 71% this year, to $103,287, according to the records. That might be due to moving the Metairie festival this year from the Veterans Memorial Boulevard median near Causeway Boulevard to the front parking lot of Clearview Mall.

Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, whose district includes the Metairie parade route and who wields outsized influence over the parades, did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday.

PAYING FOR PARADES
Year Parade cost (dollars) No. of parades Average parade cost Family Gras cost (dollars)
2006 833,919 17 49,054 Unknown
2007 1,121,356 19 59,018 Unknown
2008 1,322,872 20 66,143 Unknown
2009 1,333,410 19 70,179 Unknown
2010 1,179,440 18 65,524 Unknown
2011 1,240,063 18 68,892 Unknown
2012 1,270,921 18 70,606 43,943
2013* 1,280,577 15* 85,371 68,636
2014 1,135,234 13 87,325 66,950
2015** Unknown 13 Unknown Unknown
2016 1,389,517 14 99,251 113,413
2017 1,314,225 13 101,094 90,967
2018 1,566,352 14 111,882 60,281
2019 1,644,856 14 117,490 103,287

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Drew Broach covers Jefferson Parish politics and education plus other odds and ends. Email: dbroach@nola.com. Facebook: Drew Broach TP. Twitter: drewbroach1