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New Orleans mayor walks back threat of canceling Mardi Gras

People on balconies look on as a man encourages people to drink during Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, La., in March. The 2022 carnival season was the first celebrated since 2020 when the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/2f23b0eddc8f31b6512dd2ec6b1fac23/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
People on balconies look on as a man encourages people to drink during Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, La., in March. The 2022 carnival season was the first celebrated since 2020 when the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Mayor LaToya Cantrell on Friday walked back her threat to cancel Mardi Gras over a shortage of police and emergency services in New Orleans.

"If you don't have adequate police, it could mean there will be no Mardi Gras. That's a fact," Cantrell said at a community meeting Thursday night, according to the New Orleans Advocate.

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Cantrell said she did not wish to cancel Mardi Gras but seemed to indicate that she would consider it because festivities could endanger officers.

"When it comes to jeopardizing the safety of the men and women who make that ultimate sacrifice and kiss their families when they leave every day and hope to come at night or in the morning, they are the priority," she said.

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Mardi Gras is a festival that takes place on Fat Tuesday in Catholicism's season of carnival, which is celebrated around the world under a variety of names. The holiday itself cannot be canceled but the city could put restrictions on parades and events.

Data from the New Orleans Police Department shows that the law enforcement agency employs 1,272 people. There have been 3,356 incidents reported to police in the last 30 days and police take around 13 minutes to respond to calls for service.

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Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said at a Criminal Justice Committee meeting Friday that "everything is on the table" regarding Mardi Gras.

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"Everything is on the table, maybe asking for assistance from other agencies," Ferguson said. "Now is the time to plan."

Dr. Meg Marino, the director of emergency medical services for New Orleans, told WGNO that the city is operating with 60% of its current staffing.

"We are not canceling Mardi Gras," Cantrell told WDSU on Friday. "New Orleans, like the rest of the nation, is experiencing a shortage of public safety personnel that includes police, fire, EMS -- across the board -- you name it."

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