Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Mardi Gras arrests drop dramatically

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — This year's Mardi Gras inside MainStrasse Village bars and restaurants prompted some business people to call for a more public event in 2002.

        Police made nine arrests in MainStrasse on Friday and Saturday, police spokesman Lt. Col. Jim Liles said: two for alcohol intoxication, one for public nudity, one for driving under the influence and five for disorderly conduct.

        Last year's Mardi Gras resulted in 53 citations and arrests for public urination, underage drinking and disorderly conduct.

        The rowdy celebration prompted city officials to cancel the public street festival this year, including all parades.

        “We were pretty pleased with this year's event,” Lt. Col. Liles said.

        This year, entertainment complex Jillian's held what it billed as “the world's largest Mardi Gras party this side of New Orleans,” and nine bars and restaurants offered a Mardi Gras pub crawl.

        “Everything went really swell,” said Jimmy Gilliece, owner of Chez Nora.

        “Hopefully, next year, we'll get a parade back, and we'll go from there.

        “It's a shame that the entire community has lost what was obviously a very popular event that so many organizations ... supported and would like to see continued. Hopefully, we can work on it again for next year.”

        Tammy Morgan of the Strasse Haus said she also would like to see a more public event next year, complete with parades and blocked-off streets.

        “I think things could be well-managed for next year, if we started planning now,” she said.

        Paul Wolgin, operations director for the village association, said that organization has not decided whether to pursue a more public Mardi Gras celebration next year.

        “As far as a parade, that would be negotiable,” Lt. Col. Liles said.

        “But (the police) would be opposed to closing off the streets and letting people drink in the streets.”

        Said MainStrasse resident Sandy Arnold, one of the more vocal critics of last year's Mardi Gras: “For Mardi Gras, it's a different attitude than if you come down for Maifest,” a spring wine festival.

        “I think the residents would want to sit down with the village association and hear exactly what they're suggesting. I think we'd have to have some real stringent rules.”

        Thirty-two police officers, including 10 officers paid for by the bars, worked the two-day celebration, Lt. Col. Liles said.

        Last year, about 20 police officers were on hand to control a record crowd that totalled 60,000 over two days.


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