The Year New Orleans Canceled Mardi Gras
It's hard to imagine New Orleans without Mardi Gras. That's like cornflakes with out the milk, right? Well, it's happened a few times throughout New Orleans's history for various reasons. Fat Tuesday was cancelled during World War 2, World War 1 and even the Civil War. All of those, completely understandable reasons. But, in 1979 Mardi Gras was cancelled in New Orleans for a very different reason, and people were not happy.
In 1979, the New Orleans police department went on strike for three weeks. The strike happened right in the middle of Mardi Gras. With no police force to help keep order during the biggest party in the country, the city had no choice but to cancel the celebrations.
Now, if you're from New Orleans or know anyone from the city, you know it takes way more than a simple cancellation to stop Mardi Gras. The people still had an unofficial Mardi Gras of some sort, and it was reportedly unlike any celebration before or since.
The cancellation was due to the police strike, but in true Louisiana political fashion, it was due to a myriad of other reasons as well.
From nola.com -
Although the incident is remembered as "the" police strike of 1979, it was in actuality two strikes. The first was an effort by the Teamsters-backed Patrolman's Association of New Orleans to restore employee benefits cut at the end of 1978 and -- this was a biggie -- to rescind sole recognition of a rival police organization as a bargaining agent for police. PANO would end up winning that round.
Eventually, this all sorted itself out. The following year, Mardi Gras was back in splendid fashion, and has been ever since. I remember as a kid my dad telling me about the year Mardi Gras was cancelled. My older brother Greig was apparently so upset about it, my father decorated our living room couch like a float and sat behind it, tossing out beads for my brother to catch.
For more on this story, head over to nola.com.