OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) – The Opelousas police chief is taking extra precautions this year for the Mardi Gras Parade.
This is after a toddler died after a truck pulling a float struck her at the MLK Parade in Abbeville.
With around two thousand people lining the streets of Opelousas, Police Chief Donald Thompson said he is worried about children’s safety without barricades.
“Let’s be safe, let’s be smart out there,” Thompson said.
The Half-Fast Krewe of Frank, referring to Frank’s Poboys, puts on the Mardi Gras parade in Opelousas. Frank’s Poboys owner David Burleson says they’ve never had any safety issues in 18 years.
“We pay a lot of attention to safety with the barricades. I personally myself am standing in the street slowing traffic down making sure everyone is aware what’s going on along with the chief. He’s usually out there to help,” Burleson said.
Thompson said the city only has about 40 barricades, but they need 1,800 barricades to line the route. He said this could cost thousands of dollars.
“One barricade can cost me 500 dollars. I don’t put a value on life. If I got to get out there and ask every business owner or stand on every intersection in this city with a bucket. But to save someone’s life to save a child’s life? It doesn’t matter to me,” Thompson said.
Organizers said this year is a more family-friendly parade.
“We’re going to focus on families coming out and enjoying it together and not so much on the drinking side of Mardi Gras,” Burleson said.
Because of this family-friendly parade, Thompson said he’s asking the city for more barricades to make sure celebrations in Opelousas are even safer.
“Safety and that child’s life is what’s important to Donald Thompson. Not chief Donald Thompson. I’m going to make this personal, Donald Thompson,” Thompson said.
The Opelousas Mardi Gras Parade is February 28 at 11 a.m.