2/19/2006

To Mardi Gras or Not to Mardi Gras?

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina many residents are apprehensive regarding this year's Mardi Gras celebration. Six months after this city was hit by the worst natural disaster in US history, New Orleans looks more like an urban wasteland than a party ground. Now many wonder whether this year's Mardi Gras will be able to breathe new life into the city. An estimated 700,000 party goers are expected to come for the celebration, however many local residents are understandably concerned. "We don't need Mardi Gras, we need to rebuild the city," said resident MacArthur Samuels. "Don't put up lights for Mardi Gras if there is no lights in my neighborhood." On the flip side, city officials are hoping that Mardi Gras will generate 500 million dollars to help reconstruction efforts. Regardless, the tone of this year's Mardi Gras will be far different from that of previous years.

8 comments:

Boris said...

I doubt that the building time lost because of Mardi Gras will equal the amount of money that Mardi Gras will bring to the area. I think Mardi Gras is still vital to New Orleans, just as it has been in the past.

Morgan said...

While I personally don't care whether or not New Orleans hosts Mardi Gras this year, I don't think the money that could potentially be generated is going to make that big of a difference. To see the devastation on television day after day, and to hear about possible effects from the upcoming hurricane season, it seems like the rebuilding of New Orleans will be a long, and extremely costly process at best. However, if people want to celebrate mardi gras, they should do it, however I wouldn't bank on it as a means for rebuilding New Orleans.

Boris said...

I think the previous comment underestimates the importance of the income that Mardi Gras has historically brought to New Orleans. Tourism accounts for $5.5 Billion of New Orleans' income, and a large portion of that comes during Mardi Gras. I'm not sure, but I think they might miss the extra billion dollars that Mardi Gras could bring in.

rico said...

I think New Orleans shouldn't be there in the first place. An underwater city? Who thought that would be cool? They sucked money from the government when they got bailed out after the hurricane, they should support any income generating event they can.

Brooke said...

As Mardi Gras has now passed, I think it was the right decision to hold the celebration in New Orleans. One huge benefit of Mardi Gras was obviously the revenue brought into the city. Hundreds of businesses who once flourished in New Orleans have shut their doors. Others are fighting the slow battle to regain what they once had. The influx of cash from Mardi Gras is a huge benefit for the city.

A second, less monetary benefit is the feeling of celebration for the residents of New Orleans. While I personally would never attend Mardi Gras, this has been a lifelong tradition for some residents. With everything that has been destroyed in New Orleans, this tradition can remain.

I also disagree with the comment made by Rico that New Orleans does not deserve our government's help. Although there are quite a few things that go on in New Orleans that I am not a supporter of, who are we to say that one city or group of people are more deserving of help and charity than anybody else?

Billy said...

My parents go to Marti Gras every year - and this year was no different. They feel some sort of connection with the city, as most annual attenders of Marti Gras do. Personally, I don't understand it. My parents have a strange connection with hurricanes now, since they were caught in Cancun during Hurricane Wilma. They feel some sort of obligation to those people in New Orleans, too - that they need to go and support them.

I think that is the biggest thing about this Marti Gras phenomenon. People feel a connection to the city and they feel a connection to the people of the city. I don't think that Marti Gras will ever move cities. I'm not so sure that New Orleans is worth rebuilding, but plenty of other people want to rebuild it - so I say more power to them.

rico said...

I made the comment that the government should not bail them out. It has nothing to do with the lifestyle or what goes on, it is simply for the fact that they built a city underwater. There are dams literally holding the ocean back. If someone is stupid enough to build a house there, they deserve what happens. The same thing goes for the residents of St. George who built their houses on a flood plain. The river flooded and wiped out their homes, who's fault is that?

Dr. Tufte said...

I'll let Billy and Morgan slide on their spelling of Mardi Gras.

One point that is missed in this discussion is that Mardi Gras is only barely funded by the local government, and not at all by the state and federal governments. So the appropriate comparison is more along the lines of whether or not you should have, say, a birthday party after a tragedy. Some people will do that, and some won't.