Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mardi Gras will be unrecognizable this year. Most parades have been cancelled. A few have regrouped, creating drive-thru parades. The dancers, bands, and krewe members throwing beads and masks “parade” on either side of a road as parade-goers in cars pass. With no parades, people are taking their house-blinging to the next level this year. Krewe of House Floats, a grassroots effort to give neighbors a safe, socially distanced parade experience, encourages people to use local businesses and artists to help decorate their homes as house floats. I’ve already seen 3 homes done as floats and they totally brightened my days (PHOTOS below).
Losing the parades, balls, and other Carnival activities and gatherings has made us cling harder to other traditions. I thought about not doing a Mardi Gras tree this year — for about a minute. My neighbor’s doing her first this year. January 6th marked the beginning of Carnival and the right to finally eat King Cake again. Every year, I wrap elaborate Christmas ornaments I made by hand from Sculpey clay, glass beads or chandelier crystals and pack them away to make room for Mardi Gras. I add purple, green and gold light strands to the tree and hang hundreds of trinkets we’ve caught at parades.
Though there are a few of my handmade ornaments, most are medallions and shiny charms cut from bead strands, and plushies I sit atop branches. Every year, we attend at least 20-30 parades. I catch throws at almost all of them, After each parade, I pile the toys, beads, plushies and other goodies like phone accessories, fanny packs, and clothing items under the tree. After the last of the parades (or after St. Patrick’s depending when Fat Tuesday lands), I make care packages for my nieces and nephews then sort all the beads to donate to Arc-GNO‘s bead recycling program. Of course, I pick out some favorite throws for keepsaking or to remove all the charms and add hooks for next year’s tree. This year, I can’t imagine I’ll be adding much. My nieces and nephews will get nothing. The good people of Arc-GNO will get nothing. From any of us. Probably won’t sell much either.
Normally, this time of year I’d be practicing at least once a week with my fellow Pussyfooter dancers. We’d be getting ready to throw our annual Blush Ball to fundraise around $30,000 annually for METRO, serving those affected my domestic violence. We’d be putting finishing touches on our pink and orange corseted uniforms, memorizing dances, selling tickets to the ball, collecting donated items for the raffle and silent auction, and more and more. It’s like throwing a wedding every year while also learning up to a dozen dances. I miss all of it – the sisterhood, the feeling of giving back, dancing in the streets, and so much more.
It’s a hard time to stay cheerful. King Cake helps. We got our first of the season from Robert’s Fresh Market. You can read more about the tradition and “finding the baby” HERE. And the Saints being in the playoffs feels good. My first year living here was when the Saints won the Super Bowl DURING Mardi Gras in one of the most magical moments in the history of partying and celebration. It’s a moment I’ve done my best to capture in The Secret of the Other Mother: A Charlotte Reade Mystery, the first of my 5-book mystery series.
I’ll be posting photos of more “Yardi Gras” house floats soon!