May 042017

A few soggy patrons get food last year at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell (Della Hasselle).

By Claire Byun

At least two weekends every year, Fairgrounds residents have to commute in and out of police barriers, tourist traffic and street vendors during Jazz Fest. To lessen some of that burden, residents are given neighborhood access passes that allow them to park at – or at least near – their homes.

Some people have been selling those passes for profit, officials said.

Jimmy Fahrenholtz, former Orleans Parish School Board member and member of the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood Association, told neighbors three people had already been arrested for selling their passes. Residents can request extra passes if they have guests or a party planned during Jazz Fest, though some people abuse those tickets.

“It’s fraud, and you go to jail for that,” Fahrenholtz said.

Fahrenholtz said organizers have considered numbering the tickets, which would make them more difficult to sell, but that comes at too high a cost. Fahrenholtz said some neighbors solicit extra tickets from other residents, then sell them to vendors or online “for little to nothing.”

“So these are people you personally gave them to, and then they turn around and sell them,” said Steve Mardon, FSJNA member.

Police can find and arrest those selling passes with a “sting” operation, usually just by asking to buy a few passes undercover or online, Fahrenholtz said. While parking is always an issue, construction work on gas and power lines along the Bayou have also been a pain for residents.

Sarah Stogner, FSJNA president, said Entergy’s work on gas lines during Jazz Fest has only added to the parking problems. That, coupled with a lack of “no parking” signs, has led to the most issues this year.

Stogner did appreciate fest officials closing the gates until after the horrendous thunderstorm Sunday morning, which cut down “some of the problems that would have cropped up later.”

“Kudos for not letting people in before the storm,” Stogner said.

Jazz Fest continues until Sunday.

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