Officials add wattles on Mardi Gras parade route to try to protect storm drains

LAFAYETTE, LA. (KLFY) – Officials, local businesses and organizations worked together to protect storm drains and the Vermilion River from pollution caused by Carnival celebrations.

The stone lichens' goal is to catch any Mardi Gras beads that people don't take home before they enter the storm drains and ultimately the Vermillion River.

A historic turnout is expected for the Mardi Gras parade in Jeanerette

“This is the first time we have used storm surge to protect our storm sewers,” said Sarah Mary Toce, development director for Parish Proud. “Basically, Parish Proud and UL, we've just been trying to think of ways to make our Mardi Gras more sustainable, ways that, of course, don't ruin the fun. We will keep the culture alive, but we will also respect the community and keep it just as vibrant before and after the parades.”

News 10 was with the crews as they placed 16 stone branches along the parade route.

“We felt like this was an incredible opportunity for our boys to give back to the community. “So we use the stone mesh to keep water going down the drain, but also to keep the Mardi Gras beads from getting in there and contaminating our waterways and returning to the Vermilion,” said Ben Simms, vice president of the Lemoine Company.

“Right now it’s just a pilot,” Toce said. “We want to confirm that these efforts are working, that they are meaningful and that the community has responded positively. If so, hopefully we will continue it along the entire parade route next year.”

There's a UL Lafayette legend: If you throw away trash, you might get a visit from the stream monster that protects the waterways.

“You know you don’t want to throw away trash just to get it out safely,” said Gretchen Vanicor, director of sustainability at UL Lafayette. “But you know, he comes out during the Mardi Gras festival to remind people that the trash that goes down the drain may end up in his friend's house. It is said that there is a possum named Hero hanging on his shoulder. I don't know. Are you the Coulee Monster?”

The parade started at 7:00 p.m. This Mardi Gras season, be careful not to run into the Coulee Monster littering trash.

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