Chewbacchus returns to St. Claude Ave, bringing back the crowds and commerce

“Both companies are getting a lot of calls asking if it’s safe to park here.”

NEW ORLEANS – Chewbacchus returns in triumph. Crowder Street on Saturday.

Due to NOPD manpower shortages and COVID-19, the parade was cut short in the days leading up to 2022, but they won’t be held back again.

“We’re working without Councilman Freddie King and we’ve been preparing all year,” Chewbacchus Overlord Simonette Berry said. “We figured out how to hire additional security personnel, so when it came time to fill out our permits, we were ready.”

Before the parade started, many people thought about safety measures.

“Both companies get a lot of calls asking if it’s safe to park here,” said Mowgli Pierlas, owner of Arabell’s Casa di Pasta and co-owner of Kajun’s.

Pierlas says Chewbacchus is their biggest night of the year, and having the parade back outside his front door is great news. But a sharp rise in stolen cars in New Orleans has customers uneasy.

“Obviously, it affects business,” Pierlas said. “It’s affected the city in a negative way. It’s made us look bad, and my main concern is that we’ve been talking about this and no one has found a workable solution to it.”

So far this year, more than 600 vehicles have been stolen in New Orleans, and there have been nearly 500 auto thefts, according to the city council’s crime dashboard.

This is a problem happening across the country. Big cities like Philadelphia, St. Louis and Chicago are also seeing a spike in car thefts, especially from Kia and Hyundai vehicles.

Interim New Orleans Police Chief Michelle Woodfork deployed more police patrols to car-break-in hotspots, such as the parking lot outside the Saints-Pelicans game. The city will also bring in police officers from outside Orleans Parish to supplement NOPD along the parade route.

People we spoke to on Saturday night said the increased police presence at the parade gave them a sense of security, but if that didn’t deter would-be thieves, they hoped something else would.

“I also thought, you know, during Mardi Gras everyone is going to be extra happy and hopefully that spirit will drive them not to[sic],” Sarah Peters said as she walked towards the parade.

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