LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In preparation for Mardi Gras weekend in Southwest Louisiana, there are some new changes aiming to keep attendees safe.
“It’s a big event. Lake Charles Southwest Convention Visitor’s Bureau says that we have about 100,000 visitors to Southwest Louisiana and that has an economic impact of around $22 million," said John Cardone, Lake Charles city administrator. "It grows bigger each year, so our goal and objective is to make sure that those people that come out really enjoy this event and they feel safe at this event.”
The parade route this year starts a little farther north, on Pine Street. For the entire parade route, click HERE.
The area under construction, south of Mill St. is a no throw/no spectator zone.
Law enforcement will be present all along the parade route, but this year they’re adding one more patrol.
“It was approved to have a fire prevention officer who (is) certified through the post council just like law enforcement,” said Lake Charles Police, Sgt. Scott Dougherty. “They are going to help us enforce these ordinances related to fire and things like that.”
Dougherty said fire-related incidents are a problem every year.
“Whether it’s the McNeese homecoming parade or whether it’s Mardi Gras, we always seem to have a little issue with fire," Dougherty said. “Whether it’s barbecue pits or people having open flames or bonfires on the side of the parade route.”
Barbecue pits and open fires are not allowed in or on vehicles, or in the public right-of-way, as stated on this year’s Parade Do’s and Don’ts List. The list will be posted on every barricade. For the full list of parade rules, click HERE.
Barricades will restrict street parking from Ryan and Pine streets, south of Sallier, beginning 8 a.m, Friday, Feb. 21. Also for the first time this year, Ryan Street between Kirby and Gill streets will only have one lane in each direction beginning Friday, Feb. 21 until the parades end on Tuesday.
“That is one of the few areas where we’ve had an increase in crowds," Dougherty said. "We’re going to move the barricades down to make that more safe for the public and give them a place to stand without having to worry about them spilling into the streets, the float, and things like that.”
Beginning Fat Tuesday, one lane of Ryan Street in each direction will be open until 2:30 p.m., when the road closes for the Krewe of Krewes parade.
For more information on the closures, click HERE.