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Changing Routes: Why the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association Should Move the Parade. On Thursday, the Alexandria Mardi Gras Association will vote on whether to change the parade's route. The Town Talk asked readers what they think of the proposed change. The new route will begin at the Alexandria Mall, travel down Masonic, Lee, Bolton, Murray, and into Downtown. This, I believe, is the right idea, and I hope that people will buy into this concept. The Alexandria Mardi Gras parade, to the best of my knowledge, was originally supposed to travel into Downtown Alexandria, but due to the construction of 1-49, the association decided to temporarily move the parade along Texas Avenue. The parade has been traveling along this "temporary" route for over a decade. Currently, the Children's Mardi Gras parade, when it's not rained out, travels through Downtown Alexandria, and the city spends thousands of dollars in order to provide for this. If both parades travel along the same basic route, the Children's parade on Saturday and the main parade on Sunday, we can make better use of our resources and eliminate the need for the city to prepare two routes within two days. I believe there is a slight tone of racism underneath the criticism of the proposed route change, and many of these comments (I can't help it) REALLY discourage me. Here is a sampling of the remarks the Town Talk published on their website: "The old Mardi Gras route is fine, and speaking for a large group of parade-goers, we would like for it to stay just the way it is."Brent Fontenot Lamar: I also claim to speak for a large number of parade-goers, and I say that we want to move the parade! See, anyone can claim to speak for a lot of people! "I THINK THEY SHOULD LEAVE IT LIKE IT IS."Sherrie Wiggins "I THINK THE NEW PARADE ROUTE IS NOT AT ALL A GOOD IDEA!!!! MOVING THE PARADE IN THAT AREA WILL DEFINITELY CAUSE MANY MORE VIOLENT CRIMES, PEOPLE FIGHTING, DRUGS, ETC!"I WILL NOT ATTEND THE PARADE IF IT IS MOVED TO THAT AREA OF TOWN, IT'S NOT GOOD AT ALL. ... YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT DRINKING AND PARTYING A FEW BLOCKS FROM THE SONIA QUARTERS!"Anonymous Lamar: TT, why did you publish this? This person is obviously suffering from some sort of mental disability, and it's just not right to exploit the mentally challenged. "Bad idea (to move the route). No parking for one. I won't park my car off of Lee Street, and downtown has only one parking lot as it is. No convenience stores to pick up extra ice, drinks etc. People along Texas and Jackson, Charles Park etc. can't migrate from their homes without loading into cars creating more traffic and parking issues. The more trouble it takes to attend parade, the less people will attend. No place for those to set up tailgating with campers etc. Not sure what injuries they are trying to avoid, but I can't see where relocating the parade route -would resolve anything."Anonymous Lamar: What? That's a bogus argument, and you know it. There are plenty of convenience stores along this new route, and there is ample parking. Look, I don't think Bolton Avenue and Lee Street are the BEST streets in town, but it's hard to deny their importance as Alexandria's major arteries. "I think that the new route would not only subject locals and tourists to a more crime-ridden area of town, but also a less attractive part of our town compared to current route down Texas Ave. I am curious as to what is driving the change."Tom Spencer Lamar: Tom, I'd check with the police station located on Bolton Avenue for statistics about crime along this new route. I think you'd be surprised. "Leave it up to Alexandria to change things that don't need to be changed. ... If the parade is moved, there will be a lot less people coming to that area. ... Why the change? I went to the past one, and there was a group of gang members walking down the streets stealing from back of trucks. Anytime something is going well in Alexandria, somebody gets a stupid idea to move it..I guess next they will charge to get in. ... That is a bad area -- leave it where it is."Anonymous Lamar: I love it. Anonymous asks, "Why the change?" And then proceeds to recount a story about "gang members walking down the streets stealing" during last year's parade. It's like: Why the change? People are already committing crimes. "I like the idea of moving the parade route. I am not sure that the proposed route is the best one, but anything that moves the parade into the downtown area is a great idea! Some of my fondest memories of Mardi Gras are going to New Orleans and watching Bacchus, Mid-City and others roll through the French Quarter and St. Charles areas. Having a parade downtown feels more like Mardi Gras than the current route. The past few years the Children's Parade on Saturday has been more fun than the Krewe parade, in part because of its location. I think moving the parade allows everyone to enjoy the parade rather than just those that park their flatbed trailers in the mall parking lot and all down the parade route weeks before the parade starts. Doing this creates little "private" viewing parties, and I am sure tempers flare when someone "violates" your private party. The great thing about Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Lafayette is that it feels like a large community party by virtue of its setup. The Alexandria parades are fun, but you don't really get that feeling of community, thanks to all the plastic orange and yellow tape sectioning off areas for independent groups." Anonymous Lamar: A voice of reason. "BAD IDEA TO CHANGE ROUTE."Anonymous "I think moving the parade route will be a bad move. We will lose a lot of people due to the location, and there is nowhere for anyone to park. Why change it if it's not broken?"Donna E. Procell "What a horrible idea!!! That is a horrible part of town. I sure won't be bringing my child down there to stand around and wait to get robbed!"Anonymous "I enjoy the current route for the Mardi Gras Parade. Most people pull their vehicles close to where they will be standing for the parade and cook. Tailgating is a big thing for us here. Food always brings strangers together. If the route was moved to downtown, I don't think people would be able to make it the all-day event that it is now. There would be no place to "tailgate." The children's parade is fine for downtown but not the adult parade. Keep the tradition going." Anonymous Lamar: People are so backwards. The Children's parade is "okay" downtown, but not the main parade because you can't tailgate downtown. I bet people will find creative ways of enjoying the day in Downtown Alexandria, and I think this will be a real boost for our downtown economy. I think that moving the parade is a great idea for a number of reasons: 1. The new route, though not perfect (I'd like to see it travel down Desoto Street), displays more of historic Alexandria than the previous one. 2. The new route will bring between 50,000- 150,000 people into Downtown Alexandria, creating a city-wide party on a much grander scale than Horatio's Caribbean Nights. 3. The new route allows for more of the community to participate. I agree with the person who said there are now "private" home parties, and this, I think, is not in line with the spirit of Mardi Gras. If you're not at someone's home on Texas Avenue, you're stuck in the mall parking lot. 4. Wake up! The current route is boring! There's nothing uniquely Alexandrian about the route. 5. The parade still starts at the mall, so for all of those who are afraid of Lee Street and Bolton Avenue, you can STILL tailgate at the mall. You don't have to watch the parade from Lee Street. 6. The parade was originally intended to go downtown. The children's parade is already downtown.