Reader unhappy about float noise

GULFPORT

How can parade floats get away with playing loud music in Gulfport when the city has a strict noise ordinance that allows police to ticket motorists who crank up the volume on their stereos?

An exemption to the city’s noise ordinance spells it out, Police Chief Alan Weatherford said. The chief’s comment is in response to a Sound Off over the weekend that complained about loud music from a parade float. The 25th annual Shenanigans St. Patrick’s parade rolled downtown Sunday before an estimated crowd of 20,000.

The only way loud music from a parade float could be illegal is if the music was blasting as the float drove through town before or after the parade, Weatherford said.

“Once it reaches the staging area, that’s a different story,” the chief said. “The Sound Off doesn’t say if it was before or during the parade. We didn’t get any complaints about loud music from Sunday’s parade and we didn’t get any from Mardi Gras parades, either.”

Parades are exempt from Gulfport’s noise ordinance as long as organizers obtain a permit from the city 15 days in advance.

Weatherford said Gulfport police have issued 2,500 tickets for noise violations since they began enforcing the ordinance as a “quality of life” and safety issue in August 2006. The maximum fine is $1,000.

Anyone with a complaint about loud music can call Gulfport police dispatchers at 868-5959. Or a complaint can be lodged on the police Web site. Drivers identified in online complaints receive a warning letter.

By ROBIN FITZGERALD – rfitzgerald@sunherald.com

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