Good Times Still Rollin’
New Orleans Locals Adapt to Keep Mardi Gras Alive
New Orleans is no stranger to adversity, but whatever is thrown at us, our community will always persevere and get through it together. The cancellation of Mardi Gras parades this year is no different. Upon hearing the news in November, local resident Megan Joy Boudreaux jokingly posted on Twitter, “We’re doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbors walking.”
From there, the idea exploded into the group “Krewe of House Floats,” which boasts more than 14,000 members. This includes Mardi Gras enthusiasts from all over the country, as well as some international members reaching as far as Australia and Abu Dhabi.
In New Orleans, participating neighborhoods created themes to help residents come up with decorating ideas, but many homeowners chose concepts that were more personal to them. For example, the “Acadiana Hay Ride” house float features the portraits of Cajun and zydeco musicians, along with dancing couples and musical notes. The couple met at a music festival, and you are likely to hear zydeco music playing when you drive by this one.
A few more favorites include the Jazz Fest-themed float “Forever Festin.” It is located just off of the Fairgrounds where Jazz Fest takes place every year, so it was an easy decision for the homeowner. She beautifully created all of the decorations and received the stamp of approval from Mr. Jazz Fest himself, Quint Davis. In keeping with their Belles of the Bayou theme along Bayou St. John, another home pays tribute to Leah Chase, the “Queen of Creole Cuisine.” The home on St. Charles Avenue that is commonly referred to as the “Wedding Cake House” due to its layers of white balconies, cornices and columns has been transformed into “Dino Gras.” Unlike those seen in the movies, these dinosaurs are decked out in festive hats and beads. The fun doesn’t stop with homes – local businesses such as Commander’s Palace and Mignon Faget have joined in and decorated as well.
Whether you drive by to see these homes yourself or peruse through the photos posted to social media, you cannot help but feel joyful about what has been created. What is even more special is the way New Orleanians have come together to help one another. Krewe of House Floats created a resource page that allows local residents to hire float artists and other vendors who would have otherwise been out of work this season — many are booked up and taking orders for next year. Additionally, the nonprofit just launched a $100,000 giving campaign to focus on unemployment, food insecurity, and housing insecurity. The group also helped spawn the initiative “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist,” which is organized by the Krewe of Red Beans. Homeowners and businesses can either commission a project or donate to the organization’s crowdfunding effort. Once their $15,000 target is reached, a raffle winner is drawn. Twenty houses have been funded to date. Prior to this, the Krewe of Red Beans formed “Feed the Front Line” and “Feed the Second Line” programs to deliver meals to hospital workers and groceries to the city’s culture bearers.
Much like the Emerald Coast, New Orleans is resilient, and we will always find a way to celebrate our culture. From the beaches to the Bywater, I invite you to break out your purple, green and gold next year and join in the fun.
Written by Sharon Sibley