Security concerns prompt big changes for Gaslamp Mardi Gras this year

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SAN DIEGO - The beloved Mardi Gras Parade & Celebration in the Gaslamp Quarter has been canceled for 2018, event organizers announced Monday.

Organizers say the decision to put the event on hold was due to the high costs and need for more security.  Security costs have been rising steadily since the September 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando and the recent shootings in Las Vegas.

The event’s planner and coordinator, Laurel McFarlane emphasized it’s important to make sure everyone feels safe so they can relax and enjoy themselves.

“Instead of rushing and making it happen, we’ll just take a pause for a year and regroup and make it something really special,” said McFarlane.

The San Diego Police Department hadn’t heard the news about the cancellation, but newly named police chief Dave Nisleit says all of the recent mass shootings have put every police department on high alert when it comes to crowd safety.

“We really have to be prepared to protect people and some of that is by using different type of force protection details such as over-watch and high visibility type stuff with our SWAT officer,” said Chief Nisleit. “Obviously, the cost does rise on that."

“It wasn’t just the police. The event planner’s responsibility was to have more security checkpoints, make sure we’re getting everybody,” said McFarlane. “Purses need to be checked, bags need to get checked at the gate and all that takes extra personnel and man-hours.”