City Crews Hauling Off Mid-City Parade-Route Placeholders

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — People who have put out ladders, sofas or other property on public land in New Orleans as parade-route placeholders have probably already lost them, a city official said Tuesday.

Parks and Parkways head Ann MacDonald said crews were out looking for such things during the city's annual Mardi Gras preparedness news conference.

"All items will be removed and disposed of," she said. "We will not be cataloging them."

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The city's first big parade is Friday. It's illegal to put out ladders more than 24 hours before a parade, MacDonald noted, and sofas shouldn't be out at all. It's also illegal to chain ladders together. "Our crews have bolt-cutters," MacDonald said.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said about 3,000 public employees will spend the next weeks working on one aspect or another of the Carnival season and Mardi Gras, which is Feb. 13. Police will be on 12-hour shifts and aided by state troopers from around Louisiana and officers from a half-dozen neighboring jurisdictions.

Landrieu and other officials repeated that no terrorism threat is known, but that people should report anything suspicious. Another frequently repeated statement: by texting "mardigras" to 888777 residents will get updates on weather, traffic and general parade safety.

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People can put up canopies to protect themselves from the sun or rain, but tents and privately rented or owned portable toilets cannot be set up in the medians because police cannot see into them, officials said. "A shooting last year was from inside a portable toilet," Landrieu noted.

The city has set up more than 650 portable toilets at various spots along the parade routes. Their approximate locations are mapped on the city's website.

The city's website also lists regulations and maps police, fire and medical stations; six recycling stations; transit routes and spots where "Blue Bikes" in the city's bikeshare program can be picked up and dropped off.

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Float riders must wear safety harnesses to avoid an all-too-frequent accident, Fire Chief Jim McConnell said: "Every year, almost, someone falls off a float."

-By Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press

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