Mardi Gras parades will pause for 2013 Super Bowl

Posted on: February 7 2012
"Krewes have been alerted of the move in dates for 2013"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

By Jaquetta White, The Times-Picayune

New Orleanians may still be polishing off holiday leftovers when the first parade of the Mardi Gras season rolls on the city streets next year. With the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans falling on what would be the first big parade weekend, the Carnival kickoff will start one week earlier.
mardi-gras-parade-saints-jersey.jpgView full sizeGrant Therkildsen, The Times-PicayuneThe Krewe of Slidellians Mardi Gras parade, with the theme 'Anything Goes, rolls down Ponchartrain Boulevard on Saturday. There will be a nine-day gap between parading weekends next year, to allow the city to focus on Super Bowl XLVII.

As was the case for Mardi Gras 2002 after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the 2013 parade season will be cut in two, with the first week of Carnival beginning Jan. 25 instead of Feb. 1. That will be followed by a nine-day break in parading as city officials, the tourism industry and police turn their attention to Super Bowl XLVII.

The Super Bowl will be Feb. 3, and Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 12 in 2013.

The parade season will pick up again after the big game. Traditionally, the official Carnival season consists of 12 consecutive days that culminate on Fat Tuesday.

“While it’s not an ideal situation, it’s still very good for the city,” said Sonny Borey, chairman of the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Advisory Committee. “Hopefully, we’ve informed (Carnival krewes) early enough that they can schedule their balls and get the rooms they need for their guests.”

Krewe captains were alerted to the change about a month ago, said Wayne Lee, captain of the Krewe of Carrollton. The switch affects at least eight New Orleans krewes that parade Uptown and on the West Bank. It is not known whether parades in suburban parishes will follow the split schedule.

The Krewe of Carrollton was scheduled to roll on Feb. 3, the same Sunday as the Super Bowl, with the organization’s ball set to take place Friday, Feb. 1. Instead, Carrollton will parade one week earlier on Jan. 27 and celebrate with a ball on Jan. 25, Lee said.
mard-gras-parades-super-bowl-2013.jpgView full sizeMardi Gras parades moving in 2013 due to Super Bowl XLVII

The change hasn’t had much effect on the krewe’s plans, Lee said, because the year-in-advance notice meant that the organization could book the same hotel for its ball, and out-of-town members don’t have to scramble to change travel plans. Lee said he’s relieved a decision wasn’t made to try to cram all parades into one weekend instead.

The only downside to parading on the earlier weekend, Lee said, is that it moves the Mardi Gras celebration that much closer to the holidays.

“That hurts a little bit,” Lee said. “You try to give people a little time. We won’t have enough time to get the excitement built up. You’re going from Christmas to New Year’s to Mardi Gras.”

This isn’t the first time the Carnival parade season has been sliced in two. The precedent was set the last time New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl.

Coincidentally, that game also was played on Feb. 3. Super Bowl XXXVI initially was scheduled for Jan. 27, 2002, the week before parade season. But the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, caused the NFL to skip a weekend of games, and the league asked to change the date of the Super Bowl so that it could still play a full schedule that season. The new date put the game on the first weekend of Mardi Gras.

But, the NFL didn’t reconfirm that New Orleans would be hosting the Super Bowl and that the big game would occur one week later than planned until mid-October 2001, leaving only three months for planning, said Jay Cicero, president and chief executive officer of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and executive director of the Super Bowl XLVII host committee.

“There was a real hardship last time,” Hardy said. “It wasn’t expected.”

As a result, some krewes had to scale back in size. The 11 krewes forced to change their schedules that year received financial compensation from the NFL. The details of the settlement were confidential, but the krewes had asked for $550,000, or $50,000 per krewe. The NFL also paid the National Automobile Dealers Association $7.5 million that year to move its meeting to the Super Bowl’s original slot.

The 2013 rescheduling isn’t expected to have the same effect because the affected Carnival krewes have been given greater notice.

“It’s been planned since we won the bid,” Cicero said. “The Convention Center is completely on hold and has been since 2009. All the hotels are completely on hold for the NFL and have been since 2009.”