Parades, potties and public spaces

During Mardi Gras, should individuals be allowed to rope off public property and bring in private porta potties? Photo: Carla Ledbetter

ALEXANDRIA , La, March 6, 2011 — In Mardi Gras, just like it is in real estate and the day after Thanksgiving, “location” is everything. If you’re lucky enough to nab one of those “choice spots” during a Mardi Gras parade, then you have a great chance to catch all those long-awaited Mardi Gras trinkets. Not only that, your particular group gets a specific area in which to spread out required cooking apparatus, food tables and ice chests without having to worry about lugging them in and out of your vehicle.

Families get together at roped off areas

Many families and groups have a long tradition of marking off a particular spot days or even weeks in advance of upcoming parades. Every year, individuals scour public and private property in search of the “perfect” place to set up and watch the Mardi Gras parades roll by. Some people even begin marking off their desired location up to two weeks in advance of the event! No kidding! Mardi Gras viewing spots are very serious business.

There is, however, actually a logical thought process behind this practice. Picking out and marking off your own personal area for a Mardi Gras parade accomplishes several objectives:

  • Child safety. Individuals get a chance to limit the number of screaming/jumping bodies vying for beads and/or trinkets thrown from Mardi Gras floats in their particular area. This is especially important if you have little children, because children can get knocked down or hurt when individuals jump up and down trying to snag those elusive, yet beloved Mardi Gras throws. Who knew that plastic beads, worth only pennies on the dollar, could cause such a ruckus between adults during Mardi Gras parades? Especially when, usually shortly after the parade, many individuals give away much of the Mardi Gras “loot” they fought so hard to catch! 
  • Since pretty much everything in Louisiana centers around food, family, fellowship and faith, Mardi Gras provides an excellent opportunity for family members and/or friends to get together. It is not unusual for folks to come into town from other states specifically for this event. Roping off your own “spot” allows you to not only set up a specific meeting place in which your group can gather, it gives you ample room to cook and set out whatever food items and beverages will be consumed during the course of the day. Many individuals arrive at their “site” as early as 4:00 a.m. the day of the parade in order to set up cookers, grills and smokers.
  • If you have pre-teens or teens, having a specific place to gather allows you the opportunity to know where they are during the day and keep an eye on them, while giving them the freedom to enjoy the day’s festivities. It also allows your children to have a safe place where invited friends can enjoy the day’s fun.

With so much food and liquids being imbibed, finding bathroom facilities can become a problem. If you have a young child, you understand the length of time between being notified that a child needs to use a bathroom and the “event” occurring. This can be especially problematic if, as on Mardi Gras day, the parade is a popular one which draws large numbers of individuals.

Porta Potties during Mardi Gras 2011

On parade day, festivities starts long before the parade actually arrives, and continues well beyond the moment the last float rolls down the street. Knowing this, some individuals bring motor homes or camping trailers and park them nearby, or go to the expense of having a rented “Porta Potty” delivered for the event. It’s not unusual to see multiple “Porta Potties” lining the parade route, each set up within a particular roped off area.

There are, however, a few problems associated with this practice. For instance, in Alexandria, barricades line both sides of the street that parades roll down, and the day of the parade, it is illegal to move from behind one barricade and cross to the other side until after the parade ends.

The problem arises when someone wants to walk down one side of the block, and every inch of available real estate is roped off by individuals and/or groups. While most groups are friendly and allow people to move from roped off area to another, some aren’t. What happens then?

Mardi Gras 2011 Float

And—not only that, when it comes to roping off public property, which is supposed to be available for everyone’s use, what about those folks who, for whatever reason, simply want to bring their child to the parade to watch the floats, catch a few beads, then go home?

If all the spots on public property are roped off, where do they, and their children stand? At the back of the roped off area, which, in some cases, extends some forty or fifty feet in all directions? Standing this far back from the parade viewing barricades does NOT bode well for either seeing the parade, much less getting a chance to catch a few pairs of beads, which totally stinks if you are a kid. And, if a particular group, located on public property, has a rented “Porta Potty” in their spot, the chances of seeing the parade floats diminish even further if you are forced to stand behind it.

It will be interesting to see how city officials throughout Louisiana navigate the minefield of parades, porta potties, personal space and public property. Hopefully they can find a solution that satisfies everyone.

Note to self: Next year, try to get invited to firemen’s parade area; not only did their party have the best food, beverages and camping trailer bathrooms, their party totally rocked!


Read more of Carla’s work at Teaming Up For Success and Out and About Louisiana in the Communities at the Washington Times. 

Carla is the author of four published suspense novels, and her latest book,  Artful Misdirection, is currently available in Kindle format on A native of Louisiana, she serves as the Director of Web Content for Cenla Advantage Partnership a nonprofit organization funded in part by The Rapides Foundation. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot and LinkedIn.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Carla Ledbetter

Carla Ledbetter has three published suspense novels under the name C D Ledbetter and is a contributing author to several short story anthologies.  In addition, she currently serves as the Director of Web Content for Cenla Advantage Partnership, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building prosperity in Central Louisiana, funded in part by The Rapides Foundation.


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