Mardi Gras is right around the corner, in fact parades in downtown Mobile start Friday, February 14. As the carnival season approaches, city leaders are making a few changes.
Before the revelers take to the streets of downtown Mobile for Mardi Gras 2014, a few changes have been made to at least one of those streets. Police Chief James Barber announced Dauphin Street will remain closed until 11 p.m. after the evening parades.
“I’ve been on Dauphin Street after the parades and certain big nights. It’s very crowded, and there’s a legitimate concern of vehicular traffic when there’s that many pedestrians,” said Barber.
Bill Monahan owns TP Crockmiers. His building sits on Dauphin Street and thinks it’s a good idea.
“It’s just too many children, too many pedestrians and then it gives the police department, they don’t know what to do, whether to open it or close it. Now we’ll have a definite rule,” Monahan said.
Barber said they will evaluate the 11 p.m. time after the first couple of parades, and could adjust that time later or earlier.
The extended hours on Dauphin Street may come as a welcomed change for some officers, because Chief Barber also announced that some forces will be re-arranged to deal with the daytime parades.
“The distribution of our manpower is going to be based a lot more on our manpower needs depending on the amount of people that we have downtown. For instance, a lot of our day parades only average about ten thousand or so and you don’t need the same amount of officers with ten thousand people as you would for 100,000 people,” Barber said.
Barber said he’s making that change for budget reasons.
“We have a finite amount of funds that we can deal with as far as overtime, and we need to be smart in the way we apply those funds in addressing crime, not just for Mardi Gras,” he said.
The first parade in downtown Mobile is the Conde Cavaliers Friday night.