Forget the drunken tourist, the out- of-control fraternity bro, the creepy Rolling Elvi and the Bacchagator. The ladder parents are the most terrifying creatures at the parades. Krewes spend months planning and creating their floats (or, in some cases, holding meetings and paying somebody else to build their floats). They have nothing on the architectural feats of the ladder mothers. Somehow, with no planning and strategizing, the ladder parents build a miniature version of the Great Wall of China every year using only two materials: ladders and children. Architects and military strategists, take note. The ladder parents construct a rickety fortress, top it with children, perch that wall on the edge of a steep curb and then guard it with the charm of a rabid grizzly bear on crack.
The parents who respect the City Council’s rule of putting the ladder six feet or more back from the curb do a wonderful job of letting their kid enjoy Mardi Gras without ruining everyone else’s ability to enjoy the parade. They smile, laugh, share beers and don’t scream if a passerby accidentally trips on their enormous bags of loot. They’re not part of the “ladder parents” this editorial is speaking about. It’s that special breed of parent who constructs their fortress on the curb, usually paired with a makeshift living room and caution tape, that really kills the Mardi Gras experience.
Every few years, City Council passes an ordinance begging us to behave properly during Mardi Gras. The first ladder ordinance appeared after a small boy fell out of a ladder and died under a float in 1981. This year’s edition was unanimously approved. The ordinance, Section 34-33, now states, “Ladders, tents, grills, and other personal effects shall be placed six feet back from the street curb. Additionally, the practice of fastening two or more ladders together shall be prohibited.”
Furthermore, no more chaise lounges in the intersections. Yes, our city government had to specifically pass an ordinance about chaise lounges. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your opinion of chaise lounges and caution tape), enforcing these ordinances isn’t exactly a high priority for police during their busiest time of year.
Anyway, ladder parents, you’re killing the vibe. There’s no Carnival spirit in claiming a piece of the parade route as your territory, to be venomously guarded against intruders, and then constructing a freaking wall so no one else can even see the parade from behind your makeshift living room. You stand there below your brats, who enjoy the only good seat in the house. You drink Bud Light and blare Lynyrd Skynyrd from speakers like there isn’t every marching band in the city playing live ten feet in front of you. And you wait for someone to try and stand in front of your ladder so you can yell at them and show your family that you own Mardi Gras. Nevermind that this is public property and you didn’t pay for this space.