Few lawyers in the City Attorney's Office worked on New Orleans' Carnival ordinances with more zeal than Raju Haque, who succumbed to cancer more than four years ago at the age of 32.
From the time Mayor Marc Morial took office in May 1994 until Haque's death in December 1996, Haque relentlessly crafted, revised and promoted pro-Carnival ordinances. And he frequently called reporters to "leak" Carnival stories to the public -- even in July.
"He wanted to protect Mardi Gras from all that was evil," his widow, attorney Betsy Barnes, recalls with a laugh. "His main focus was preventing any kind of commercialism. For example, when the Oscar Mayer wiener mobile went by on a parade route, and threw little weenie whistles to the crowd, he would actually check them to make sure the Oscar Mayer logo was covered up. He was so concerned that if business encroached on Mardi Gras, it would be downhill."
Haque's last Carnival season was in 1996. Although weakened by lymphoma, he told his doctors he wanted to ride in the Krewe of Tucks. And he did. He also braved rain and chilly temperatures on Fat Tuesday. He was out at 7 a.m. to wave to clarinetist Pete Fountain and his Half-Fast Marching Club as they spilled out of Commander's Palace restaurant after breakfast.
Haque worked on Carnival legislation until a few days before his death on Dec. 6, 1996. "He did other things for the city and the city council, drafting ordinances and other issues, but I think he would have been happy just to be Mardi Gras attorney for New Orleans," says Barnes.
Assistant City Attorney Andre Carter now handles all Carnival ordinances for the law department.