“Ignorance” Shreveport Mayor Blasts Lt Governor Over Mardi Gras
It's been weeks since Shreveport's Mayor has attempted to handicap the city's Mardi Gras celebrations.
After multiple attempts to meet with Shreveport officials to negotiate new contracts, leadership from the city's two biggest crews were "ambushed" in their first meeting with massive changes. Leaders from both the Krewe of Centaur and Krewe of Gemini met with Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux and his team when they were given two options...to meet the city's radical demands or don't have parades.
Here are the demands the city presented:
1. Move the start time of the 2 big parades to 2:30pm
2. Change the location of the parade start from downtown Shreveport to Clyde Fant at Stoner.
3. Move the date of the Centaur Parade from February 3 to accommodate the African American Parade which is on the same date.
These demands were obviously met with backlash. The start time of the parades being changed are what further impacts the conflict with the other parade downtown on Centaur's date. Cutting the parade route in half eliminates the traditional "Family Zone" area, as well as forces the massive crowds to further congest into area's like Shreve City. And ultimately moving the date of a parade just a few months out is nearly impossible.
Many inside Mardi Gras leadership believe this is an effort from Mayor Arceneaux to end Mardi Gras in Shreveport permanently.
Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser is also opposed to these changes. He has been very vocal about the need to keep Shreveport's Mardi Gras on its date, and on pace. KEEL News recently heard from Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser on the Shreveport Mardi Gras battle. The Lt. Governor was very direct in his call for Shreveport leadership to leave things alone. He said:
"I just got back from Australia and New Zealand, and we've got people excited about coming to Mardi Gras in North Louisiana. They'll be flying into Dallas, renting a car, and coming in for Mardi Gras. Well, they're already making plans... if you change the dates of those parades, you're going to set our international tourism back because these people are already making plans to come there and enjoy those great parades and we don't want to have them show up and find out that the parade has been changed to another date. So it's very important that we stay [with] the schedule that we committed to when we went overseas to sell these events."
The Lt. Governor went on to talk about his conversations directly with Shreveport about this Mardi Gras encroachment:
"We've delivered that message, and I'll be coming up there to meet with the mayor... I've been in contact with Stacy [Brown] over at the tourism [office], and the captains of the krewes, but I'm actually coming up there in a few weeks and I'm going to sit down with the mayor and see whatever I can do to make it work. We've got to keep Mardi Gras on schedule, we're expecting a big influx of out of town guests and they spend money, and it's a great opportunity for us to grow family friendly, safe, affordable Mardi Gras in North Louisiana."
Since then, the Mardi Gras Krewes have delivered a compromise offer to the city for the parade routes, dates, and start times. However, in an interview this week, Shreveport's Mayor publicly, and forcefully, rejected the compromise offer.
He also pushed back on having outside help for the parade. Suggesting he has no interest in getting help from agencies like the Louisiana National Guard, who help at events across the state. At one point he stated that the Shreveport Convention and Tourism Bureau knows what the needs are, and are actively working on it. However, just a few minutes later in the interview, he scoffed at the same Convention and Tourism Bureau about their role in planning the parades.
But the biggest bombshell of the conversation was when Shreveport's Mayor attack the Lt. Governor directly. Here's the transcript of that exchange:
KEEL News' Erin McCarty - "The Lieutenant Governor told us on Keel and you're aware because I texted you' that we can't move the date of one of our big parades because it will impact international tourism. How do you respond to that? And has he reached out to you yet?"
Shreveport Mayor Tom Arceneaux - "I've heard not a peep from the Lieutenant Governor. I have contacted him and send him the reasons for our deal and I have not heard a work from him. I presume that his remarks were made out of ignorance."
Shreveport's Mayor made it clear during the interview that he doesn't view this as a negotiation. The rules he has created are going to be the rules, and apparently its' a "take it or leave it" situation for Mardi Gras lovers in Shreveport.
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