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Partygoers have celebrated Mardi Gras on South Street in the past with the glitter of traditional beads. The event typically draws large crowds of people who drink, dance and meander up and down South Street. Most bars will close early this year. [Ma

Philadelphia has decided that beads, boobs and bubbly belong only in Louisiana during Mardi Gras. As a result, South Street will not be celebrating the holiday this year. Ninety percent of the bars along this typically active Philadelphia corridor have cooperated with the city's request to close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4. This effort is aimed at deterring the riots and ruffians that plague the street annually on Fat Tuesday. "It's going to hurt us business-wise, but it's something the neighborhood feels is necessary," Filo's Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge worker Cheryl Richard said. "It's going to make it safer down here." Many Penn students indicated that they have no desire to attend Mardi Gras on South Street anyway. "I'm from Mississippi where they celebrate Mardi Gras, and here, it's just not really worth going," Wharton senior Erin O'Keefe said. South Street "is Philadelphia's attempt at recreating Mardi Gras, and my guess is it's not as good. I've heard about the past things that have happened on South Street, and it's just a bother." In fact, college students are not the demographic that has caused the city the most trouble in past years. "College kids are probably inside the bars," President of Queen Village Neighbors Association Colleen Puckett said. "The kids on the street look like they are 14 years old," she claimed. "The past couple years it's been pretty ugly," Fat Tuesday owner Rich Frank said. The street "is loaded with underage kids, either getting drunk, looking for a fight... looking for some girl to show her boobs." Still, while the bars generally support the city's request, they anticipate a sharp decline in revenue for the evening. "It's like telling Gap to close the week before Christmas," Frank said. "It is our day of the year, and we can't have it any longer.... By regulating the bars, you truly aren't addressing the problem." New Wave Cafe owner Nat Ross has refused to comply with the city's request to shut down for the evening. "We are open 365 days a year," Ross said. "We never close." "If you run the right kind of ship, you shouldn't be pressured to have to do anything," he continued. "It's a day that you kind of anticipate that there are a lot of amateurs out, so you staff yourself accordingly." Ross argued that if bars in possession of liquor licenses operate according to the rules and regulations governing that privilege, "then you can't see any problems." However, the detrimental effects of the ruckus that Mardi Gras creates have trampled retail businesses in the past. "Other business owners lose money," Puckett said. "The neighborhoods don't benefit from it. [The event] is extremely disruptive." "Our hope is that each year, as everyone stops promoting it... the street's essentially going to be shut down," she added. "You're going to march up and down South Street under the watchful eyes of hundreds of cops." According to Frank, South Street's Mardi Gras hasn't always been the free-for-all it has become in recent years. Several years ago, he said, "the media caught on that there were girls flashing.... The kids were like, 'Oh, that seems like the place to go.' It's a case of two or three thousand bad apples sort of spoiling the event for everybody." Increased police protection last year helped alleviate some of the chaos, but "it still wasn't pretty," Puckett said. The problem is really the spillover events, according to Puckett. South Street has accommodated nearly 40,000 partyers during past Mardi Gras celebrations, but "the rioting, smashing windows, vandalism on streets, riots spilling in neighborhoods" have become too disruptive for the street. "Events such as this, which are expressly drinking-driven, don't do anyone any good...," Puckett said. "There's not going to be Mardi Gras this year."

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