New Orleans Residents Turn Houses Into Mardi Gras Floats After COVID Cancellation
Inventive New Orleans residents have gone out of their way to make sure coronavirus doesn’t prevent Mardi Gras celebrations by turning their own houses into parade floats.
While many Brits might be focussing on the pancake-related aspect of Shrove Tuesday, many other people are spending today, February 16, celebrating the last day of the Christian Carnival celebration, which culminates with Mardi Gras.
The event is a particularly big holiday in New Orleans, where the city celebrates with music, parades, picnics, floats, costumes and food. It typically attracts locals and visitors who line the streets to watch the celebrations; however, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has thrown the usual proceedings into disarray.
New Orleans mayor LaToya Cantrell announced in November that parades would be unable to go ahead during this year’s festival, though they assured the holiday itself was not cancelled.
In an effort to make the celebrations as memorable as possible, locals took it upon themselves to create what could be described as a static parade, by turning their houses into incredible Mardi Gras attractions.
Mum and insurance manager Megan Boudreaux told CNN she invited her neighbours to decorate their homes after coming up with the idea following the mayor’s announcement. That way, rather than encouraging crowds to gather together on the parade route, those celebrating the occasion could tour the decorated streets at a safe distance to others.
Over the last three months the idea of the house float began to spread, and now 3,000 homes across New Orleans and its suburbs are ready for the first-ever ‘Krewe of House Floats’.
Decorations include tributes to healthcare workers, the late chef Leah Chase and Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, as well as a giant model of a dinosaur in a top hat, human-sized Lego figures and a wooden pelican. Houses are also adorned with more common symbols of the holiday such as colourful papier-mache or cardboard flowers, bunting, and giant strands of beads.
Doug MacCash, who followed the house float movement for local newspaper The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, likened the tour to families driving around to look at Christmas decorations and holiday lights.
He told CNN: ‘Except this year, in 2021, it has such a spirit of triumph, such a spirit of defiance. It’s like, ‘Sorry, ‘rona. We’re not just giving up’.’
Locals have taken to social media to share advice about decorating houses with others looking to get involved, and those who usually found work building floats and creating costumes have been able to put their skills to use by transforming homes.
In an effort to further aid those displaced by the festival, the Krewe of House Floats team has launched a campaign to donate $100,000 toward those facing unemployment and food and housing insecurity, such as artisans, service industry workers, musicians, Mardi Gras Indians and other culture-bearers.
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