Friday, June 26, 2009

My letter of complaint to the Travel Channel

(Sadly, I had to shorten it to get it to fit in their comment box, as they provide no e-mail address for contacting them.)

To whom it may concern,

I’m writing to express my displeasure with a recent comment made on Samantha Brown’s “Passport to Europe.”

I enjoy most of the shows on the Travel Channel and think Ms. Brown does an excellent job with her shows. However, I do take offense to this.

On a recent trip to Nice, France (I’m not sure how old the episode is…I watch a lot of reruns), Ms. Brown celebrated Carnival with a bystander. She asked the gentleman if he had ever been to Mardi Gras, and he replied that he had. She responded by saying: “I wouldn’t take my kids to Mardi Gras!”

This statement shows that Ms. Brown has clearly never attended a Mardi Gras outside of the beads-for-breasts mayhem that goes on in the Quarter, on Bourbon Street. Those cheesy “activities” have nothing to do with Mardi Gras and go on year-round. No truck-pulled parades have rolled through the Quarter since around 1975. Those parades, in fact, come for miles down St. Charles Avenue, starting at Napoleon, and the streets are lined with families during the Mardi Gras season. Only in New Orleans do hardware stores sell ladders with seats already attached to the top of them, for the kids. Take a look at pictures of St. Charles Avenue on Mardi Gras day, and you’ll see just how family-oriented it is.

Nearer to the madness of the Quarter, the police set up barricades to keep the crowds away from the floats. Farther uptown in the route, there are no such barricades, and adults and children alike are free to run up to a float for good “throws,” and I can attest that the riders do give the best throws to the children.

Please understand that I am not some offended parent…I don’t even like kids…but I do live close to the parade route and have been here for two Mardi Gras (or would that be Mardis Gras?). Yes, it’s very crowded, but so was Nice, from what I could see on television. But the police are out in force, and they don’t tolerate any inappropriate shenanigans along the parade route, nor do parade-goers who have brought their children.

I realize that in many ways New Orleans an anti-paradise. Our crime is sky high, our city officials are corrupt and incompetent, and the summer heat could fry an egg on the sidewalk. However, please realize that this is a city that relies on tourism for its survival (not to mention levees), and a blanket statement as such about a celebration that is VERY family-friendly away from Bourbon Street is damaging…for all of us.

Thank you for your time and attention.


Melissa Lewis