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ATC cracks down on underage drinking this Mardi Gras

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BATON ROUGE - Mardi Gras and alcohol go hand and hand in Louisiana, but despite the culture associated with Mardi Gras ATC officials say they will keep a close eye on crowds downtown looking for violators.

Veachel Tucker helps managed three restaurants downtown. He says Mardi Gras in downtown Baton rouge is always a great time for locals and business.

"It brings a little bit of New Orleans to Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge puts its own little spice and twist to it so its very very cool," said Veachel Tucker, Director of Operations for three restaurants downtown.

Mardi Gras is a big part of Louisiana and with the colorful festival comes alcohol, but the state's Alcohol and Tobacco Control officials say despite the culture associated with Mardi Gras they plan to hit the streets this year to crack down on underage drinking.

"Kids tend to congregate together in certain sections of a parade route that's typically where we are going to focus our efforts in those areas," said Jeffrey Barthelemy, special agent of ATC.

ATC officials cited more than 60 businesses last Mardi Gras season in the state, and officials say they'll be in parade crowds in downtown Baton Rouge looking for violators and checking on repeated business offenders.

"The biggest issue that we have is that they just didn't do the math right," said Barthelemy. "What we try to stress to them is that you don't have to do the math especially if somebody presents to you a Louisiana license and it says in bold under red letters not 21 until a certain date."

Many bar workers say they have their own way of making sure not to serve underage adults alcohol and ultimately avoid citations.

"We check IDs for anybody younger than forty years old you know and most customers understand," said Tucker.

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