Carlotta Street party OK’d

By Kimberly Vetter, The Advocate 10/21/2008

Neighborhood’s goblins all in row for permit

Costume-clad partygoers attending this year’s annual Halloween bash on Carlotta Street near LSU have permission from the city-parish and police to spill out onto the street.

Last year, police restricted revelers to private property because Carlotta Street residents hadn’t obtained a road-closure permit from the city-parish Department of Public Works.

This year, with the help of the Northgate Merchants Association, residents obtained that permit, allowing police to close the street to vehicular traffic from 6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 6 a.m. Nov. 1. The permit also will allow party-goers to stand and walk in the roadway.

Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a police spokesman, said this is the first year a road-closure permit has been obtained for the event.

“Last year we made it clear that it was not our intent to kill the party, we just wanted to make it legal and safe,” said Sgt. Don Kelly, a police spokesman. “We were hopeful that someone would be willing to step up and take a leadership role, and the Northgate Merchants Association has done so.”

Jared Loftus, president of the merchants association and owner of The Tiger District, said members of the organization decided to support the more than 30-year Halloween tradition and get the road-closure permit because they wanted the event to be legal and safe.

“Like it or not, the party is going to go on,” Loftus said. “We might as well make it legitimate.”

Clarke Cadzow, owner of Highland Coffees and member of the merchant association, agreed and said “it seemed like the right thing to do.

“A lot of our employees and customers live in the area,” he said. “We don’t want the people who mean something to us getting hurt.”

To obtain the permit, association members had to get a petition of all residents affected by the closure signed as well as pony up $1,500 for two $1 million insurance policies, Loftus said.

No one refused to sign the petition, he said, however some people requested that certain things, such as portable toilets, be in place at the street party.

There will be portable toilets at the party and association members will be selling beer at the party to recoup some of their cost, Loftus said. Other than that, association members won’t play a part in the organization of the event.

“You won’t see Northgate Merchants presents …,” Loftus said. “The residents have planned this party. We are not trying to affect the party itself.”

Kai Williams, a Carlotta Street resident and Halloween party organizer, said the association has been “great about letting us be pro-active” regarding the organization of the event.

Initially, there were some concerns about the event becoming commercialized, Williams said. But, those concerns were quashed at a meeting held with association members and Carlotta Street residents, she said.

As for the association putting up the money for the permit, Williams said, “It feels like a charitable gift to the neighborhood. Everyone is real appreciative.”

Williams also complimented the Police Department, saying officers were supportive of the party’s legacy and that their primary concern was making it legitimate.

Kelly said the Police Department’s Highland Road Precinct commander Capt. Greg Patin was actively involved in coordinating the merchants and residents. Police Chief Jeff LeDuff and Patrol Commander Capt. Charles Mondrick also were involved in discussions and planning, he said.

“The police, area residents and neighborhood merchants have all been working closely together on this for some time,” Loftus said. “We hope those who attend will respect that and help us achieve our goal, which is to make this an enjoyable, memorable night for everyone, not just this year but for years to come.”