Alderman wants changes to Pass parade

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Each year on the Sunday before Mardi Gras, the St. Paul Carnival Association Parade draws more than 70,000 people to Pass Christian. It's one of the largest parades on the coast, and some say the rowdiest.

Ward one Alderman Lou Rizzardi worries that those big crowds are causing big problems for his little city.

"I remember the days when it was small and family seemed to enjoy it. I think perhaps now, maybe we are choking on our own success," said Rizzardi.

He says the rowdy and sometimes lewd behavior at the parade needs to be controlled. It's a  task he says is too big for outnumbered law enforcement. Instead, wants the carnival association to control its own crowd.

"I do not want the parade to go away. I just want to try to control it a little bit so that we the city do not have to bear the burden of having to set it up, monitoring it and then cleaning up afterwards," said Rizzardi. "We need help, both dollar-wise and man-power wise."

Robin Rafferty, president of the St. Paul Carnival Association says the committee is doing everything asked by the city of Pass Christian. It's even limited the number of floats to 65 - a large decrease from previous years.

"Anytime you have a small town with four or five thousand people in it that ends up with 75,000 people who are looking to have a good time, that's usually going to happen," said Mayor Chipper McDermott.

Mayor McDermott says there will always be a few bad apples in the bunch. But he says there are many more people who respect and enjoy the annual event. That's why he's optimistic that as the crowd gets bigger, it will also get better.

This year's St. Paul Parade in Pass Christian is Sunday, February 22nd. It starts at 1 p.m.