Have fun, but be safe during Mardi Gras season

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2015

It’s the time of year for king cakes and parades, but it is important to be safe while having fun during Carnival season.

For those traveling to New Orleans for the celebrations, it would be wise to secure a designated driver and keep an eye on your surroundings.

Mardi Gras is renowned in the area for all the pageantry and fanfare that the occasion brings, but it has also been regarded as one of the most dangerous holidays of the year in Louisiana.

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According to various news agencies in Louisiana, thousands of people will be injured every year due to drunken driving during the Mardi Gras season. There are also a handful of fatalities every year that can be directly associated with intoxicated driving.

In addition to the travel dangers from inebriated motorists, violent crime is an ever-present issue in areas with large, congested crowds.

New Orleans has an uptick in violent crime, particularly in recent weeks. Even the tourism-oriented French Quarter has not been spared. The Associated Press reported that there have been more than 60 robberies in or around the French Quarter since November of last year.

Part of the struggle is due to an undermanned police force. The Associated Press reported that the New Orleans Police Department consists of about 1,150 officers, which is nearly 500 less than when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005.

When listening to New Orleans radio stations, one will hear public service announcements asking residents and tourists to walk in large groups and “Take back the city.”

It’s important not to let a few bad apples keep people from enjoying one of the more enjoyable times of year. Tourists and locals should be able to enjoy such a great tradition without fear of violent crime or drunken motorists.

New Orleans law enforcement officials will do all they can to provide safety for the public. The citizens can help by securing a designated driver and remaining aware of their surroundings.