Thousands of revelers are expected to pack the French Quarter and line miles of parade routes as the citywide Mardi Gras celebration began Tuesday amid political turmoil and concerns about violent crimes.
During a parade Sunday night, gunfire left one teenager dead and four others injured, including a 4-year-old girl. Police arrested Mansour Mbodj, 21, for illegally carrying a weapon, then upgraded his charges to second-degree murder.
As officials stressed Monday, the shooting was an isolated incident, and crowds appeared to have been unaffected by the violence. A football tailgate atmosphere dominated St. Charles Avenue, including the area where gunfire broke out, as people awaited the parades as they danced, drank, and ate. There were a lot of partygoers wandering through bars, restaurants, and strip clubs in the French Quarter.
At an afternoon event celebrating the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s king and queen, revelers shrugged off crime. As Chris Flug of New Orleans remarked, the shooting Sunday night was a private dispute that happened in a public setting. Whenever gun violence occurs, it’s always sad, but it shouldn’t ruin the event or the city. You can’t predict people’s behavior.”
LaToya Cantrell, the Mayor of New Orleans, has been suffering from political problems since 2021, including criticism about crime, the slow pace of major street repairs, and questions over her personal use of a city-owned French Quarter apartment. A recall petition launched last year is nearing a Wednesday deadline. One of the organizers, Eileen Carter, said she believes the movement has enough signatures, but will make a last minute push to get them validated.
“The city has enjoyed a safe and healthy Carnival,” spokesperson Gregory Joseph said in a prepared statement. “The mayor looks forward to continuing the celebration.”
Carnival season officially begins on Jan. 6, the 12th day after Christmas, and ends on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Carnival season culminates with Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. New Orleans’ raucous celebration is the nation’s most well-known, but the holiday is also celebrated throughout much of Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Mobile, Alabama, hosts the oldest celebration of Mardi Gras in the nation.