Speaking Out: Let's Keep Mardi Gras out of Halloween

Having a Halloween-themed Carnival-style parade is an idea whose time, we trust, has gone.

Originally the idea of float-builder Blaine Kern, whose whole life has been a fountain of new ideas, the first manifestation was the Krewe of Boo. After a series of entanglements, which we do not intend to sort out, that group morphed into the Krewe of Halloween that paraded as recently as last year.

As originally explained, the intent of the parade was twofold: to help develop New Orleans as a Halloween destination, and to act as a fundraiser for first responders. We aren’t sure to what extent either goal was achieved. We just know that the more that Mardi Gras knock-offs are spread throughout the year, the more Carnival is compromised not only a tourist destination but also for its own uniqueness.

When the idea was first created, Kern disagreed with our suggestion that the parade imitated Mardi Gras. This would be different, he insisted. But if a parade has floats as well as masked riders who throw trinkets at the crowd, and if it calls itself a “krewe,” that certainly looks like a Carnival-style parade to us.

Truth is, if there’s one city in the nation that does not need to institutionalize Halloween, it’s New Orleans. Ours is a city that is already Halloween-like in its character:

• There is a tradition of masquerading.

• We have houses reputed to be haunted.

• All Saints Day is taken more seriously here.

• Our quaint cemeteries provide a picturesque backdrop for veneration of the dead.

• Our anthem tells of the Saints marching in.

• Most of all, this is a city with a fervor to party.

Halloween in New Orleans is genuine, not contrived. To bring Carnival into it cheapens not only Halloween but also Mardi Gras.

We know that in the founding days of Krewe of Boo many good people got involved largely because of the charitable aspects. Their efforts are appreciated. Many other worthy causes can use their services.

As of this writing we are told there are no plans to stage the parade for Halloween 2011, though someone could conceivably revive a similar outing on the future. We say let this idea go. Halloween krewes can serve the day best by just being ghosts from the past.

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