EDITORIAL — Mardi Gras: Once it goes, it’s gone

That wasn’t necessarily a welcome wagon that greeted representatives of Mardi Gras Southeast Texas at Port Neches City Hall last week. It may have looked more like a circling of wagons.

Port Neches as a city has every right to say no to hosting an event that has given pleasure to tens of thousands of local people — including from Port Neches — over 27 years.

One resident, who labeled the four-day celebration “Port Arthur Mardi Gras,” suggested it would bring crime and disorder to Port Neches streets — although it doesn’t do that in Port Arthur. So why would it do that in Port Neches?

Mayor Glenn Johnson said it’s no sure thing that Mardi Gras Southeast Texas will invade his city. Chances are, the organization will not want to go where it is not wanted.

But it ought to be said that while Mardi Gras is an occasion of great moment in Port Arthur, its impact is generally beneficial.

Does it inspire crime? No.

Does it disrupt traffic? Not where it has been located, generally in the tranquil Port Arthur downtown.

Does it provide benefit? It sure has, especially for revelers and for the many charitable causes its profits have supported for more than a quarter century.

There’s benefit, too, in being the area city that hosts one of the area’s top parties.

If Port Neches people reject that, it’s their right. The city already hosts an event of some impact, RiverFest, and even one event is more than some neighbors there apparently want.

Mardi Gras in Port Neches? Not in my back yard. Or, perhaps, stay off my lawn. But if people prefer peace to a party, they’re entitled to their druthers.

City Council members in Port Neches will take up the subject again this month. We don’t doubt that they will act in the best interests of their community. That’s their responsibility, to serve the interests of their constituents.

Nonetheless, it is painful to hear folks discuss Mardi Gras in inaccurate and disparaging ways. The krewes are fun-loving people, their members are generous in their throws and their joyful participation and support of the event separates us out from other communities of our size who don’t celebrate this event.

If Port Neches chooses not to host the event, well, fair enough. No law says it must.

Mardi Gras Southeast Texas organizers are trying hard to find the right mix to recapture some of the event’s old excitement. Maybe it needs a new location, more local support, different entertainment. Or just better weather.

Here’s the dreadful truth, though: It takes great energy and commitment to build an annual, longstanding public event like this. Once it goes, it’s gone.

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