Saturday, January 19, 2002

Mardi Gras plan in works

Covington will scale back event from 2000 party

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — There will be a public Mardi Gras here on Feb. 8 and 9, but details are still being worked out, City Manager Greg Jarvis said Friday.

        “At the public hearing (on Jan. 7) the city commission made it very clear that we were going to have an event,” Mr. Jarvis said. “However, there are a lot of details and complexities involved in this type of event. Certainly the event will be scaled back from what was originally proposed in December.”

        Although some businesses said the 2000 celebration was an economic success, the rowdy party prompted Covington officials to cancel the public street festival last year.

        In a meeting Thursday with members of the sponsoring MainStrasse Village Association, Mr. Jarvis told them that it was OK to start awarding contracts to Mardi Gras vendors, said Gary Dirheimer, festival chairman for the association.

        Barring any glitches, Mr. Jarvis said a festival permit should be awarded next week.

        “We still have some sticking points that we're talking about but nothing major,” Mr. Dirheimer said.

        Mr. Jarvis said he is trying to set up a meeting with MainStrasse residents within days to address their concerns.

        “In our mind, this is just another event like Maifest or Oktoberfest to bring people to the area,” said Jim Gilliece, owner of Chez Nora's restaurant in Covington's MainStrasse Village. “It's kind of like an oasis in the desert of winter.”

        Joe Mueller, a MainStrasse resident who was a vocal opponent of Mardi Gras 2000, said he was disappointed.

        “There's no sense talking about it,” Mr. Mueller said. “A few of the city officials are going to do what they're going to do, but they don't want it in their back yard.”

        A 2001 Mardi Gras pub crawl was in stark contrast to the previous year's celebration, which drew a record crowd of more than 60,000 over two days, and resulted in 53 citations and arrests for public urination, underage drinking and disorderly conduct.

        To better control this year's event, Mr. Dirheimer said plans call for limiting the entertainment area, moving the parade times up a half hour each night — to 7:30 p.m. — increasing the number of portable toilets, and keeping all alcoholic drinks within the bars and entertainment tent.

        “There will be no alcohol on the streets whatsoever,” Mr. Dirheimer said.

        Celebrants can pay a $10 per night cover charge that allows entrance into participating bars as well as a tent in the Fifth Street parking lot featuring live music and beer sales.

        Mardi Gras participants must be at least 21 to enter the bars and entertainment tent, Mr. Dirheimer said.


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