Krewes spending thousands to break up tandem floats after two deaths

Krewes spending thousands to break up tandem floats after two deaths
leviathan (Source: rob masson)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Organizers of two of Carnival’s biggest parades have been working overtime to try to meet a new mandate banning tandem floats. The work has been tedious, time-consuming, and expensive, but krewe leaders say it’s about saving lives.

Electricians continued to work on Orpheus mega floats up to the last minute

Normally, the floats are ready to go, but this year has been unlike any other.

“To me it would be a catastrophe for someone to get killed in our parades,” Orpheus head, Sonny Borey, said.

After the deaths of Geraldine Carmouche at Nyx and Joe Sampson at Endymion, the mayor banned all tandem floats. For Orpheus, that means eight electricians working since 6 a.m. Sunday morning, dismantling and rewiring electronic marvels, like the Leviathan float, and the eight-float Smoky Mary, one of Carnival’s longest.

“It’s gonna’ cost us a good bit, we’re adding 12 tractors, and 12 tractor drivers,” Borey said.

Zulu is also having to split up tandem floats before they roll Fat Tuesday.

“We got with Kern and found a way to separate, and each has an independent tractor,” Zulu’s Clarence Becknell said.

As for long-term solutions... no one knows for sure.

“That’s a possibility to put an accordion structure between the two. You have to have something that will allow you to turn without ripping it,” Borey said.

“Logically, you can put some siding or signage. They will figure something out,” Becknell said.

Premier float designer Barry Kern said some accordion structure between floats may work, but he said no decisions have been made, adding there will likely be extensive study.

“There are solutions, but it will take a few weeks to iron out and work it out,” said Endymion’s Dan Kelly.

Meanwhile, krewe captains work to absorb the extra costs without passing them on to krewe members who have already paid thousands to ride.

“I’m going to work hard not to do that. It’s not their fault,” Borey said.

For now, they say it’s all about safety, and they respect the decision to separate tandem floats, per city orders.

The Mardi Gras coordinating committee will meet shortly after Carnival to try to work out a long-term solution for tandem float safety. That meeting could take place later this week.

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