New tariffs could affect Mardi Gras

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The Trump Administration is preparing tariffs on $400 billion in Chinese imports. Could those tariffs have an effect on Mardi Gras, one of the deepest traditions in Mobile?

It’s a tradition deeply ingrained in Mobile’s history: Mardi Gras, parades, and throws.

“In our culture, Mardi Gras is part of it, the fiber of Mobile. We have hunting, fishing, and Mardi Gras, my father always used to say,” said Stephen Toomey, the owner of Toomey’s Mardi Gras.

Most of the throws, like the beads and toys tossed off the floats, are plastics imported from China. The Trump administration has included plastics on a list of more than 6,000 Chinese products they are preparing to increase the tariffs on.

“It has yet to be seen what exactly the tariffs will be on the Mardi Gras beads, but I think you know, if say a bead costs 50 cents a dozen, it goes to 55 or 60 cents a dozen, is that really going to stop Mardi Gras, I don’t think so,” said Toomey.

Jon Coster is the president of Saraland’s Mardi Gras Association, Krewe of Sparta. 2019 will be their first ever parade.

“I’m finding out how expensive Mardi Gras can get,” said Coster.

They’ve started from the ground up, and learning of the potential for an increase in prices for those coveted throws can add up.

“Who would ever think a thing of beads that cost you know a buck 50 for a handful of beads. Now that buck 50 plus 2 cents, times you know a hundred people times 5 cases, times you know those pennies turn into dollars really quick,” said Coster.

But, he says that still won’t stop them. 

“For a new organization, we’re going to feel the pinch, but we’ll rally. I mean that’s what we do. It’s Mardi Gras, and Mardi Gras don’t stop for nothing. It’s a freight train going down the tracks,” said Coster.

The actual effect remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure, the party will still roll on.

Those tariffs are not in effect yet. The Office of U.S. Trade Representative will hold hearings before reaching a decision, reportedly at the end of August.

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