Lost most cities, New Orleans is dealing with the COVID shutdowns – but only New Orleans is also missing out on dozens of parades. Carnival season started Jan. 6th and we all bought King Cake to celebrate, then stayed home to eat it. Chewbacchus and Krewe Boheme would’ve started the parades in the last couple weekends and the official-unofficial start of the parade season would be this weekend’s Krewe du Vieux graphically satirical parade followed by Krewedelusion. This year, emphasizing masking and social distancing, Krewe du Vieux created a “parade route” of homes, bars and other spots for people to visit throughout the city starting in the Audubon neighborhood, where people were encouraged to drop off canned food donations.
For 36 years, Krewe du Vieux has taken on local, national and global issues with raunchy humor and paper mache phalluses. Their many brass bands are among the city’s best. This year, there were a few bands along the route with small gatherings – not the constant passing of band after band as we dance in the streets. Some people wore costumes as they wandered from spot to spot. That was nice, but mostly as a reminder of how vibrant and festive the city normally is this time of year.
The theme for 2021 is “Krewe du Vieux has No Taste” with jokes about that being a symptom of COVID. I liked the interactive sites like the one where people could write something they were dumping from 2020 (after using the hand sanitation station) and enjoy the giant poop display.
Some of the houses I photographed are from the citywide participation in “Yardi Gras” – turning homes into parade floats. Some people have hired professional float artists (who would be otherwise out of work) and have registered to be on the Krewe of House Floats map. Others have gone DIY. The effect has been so magical, I think Yardi Gras may become its own annual tradition. I’ll be posting more photos of the many house floats I’ve seen on my recent walks soon. Enjoy what we’ve been able to salvage of this weekend’s festivities in the photos below and if you’d like to see a more traditional version of the night, check out last year’s post and read more about the parade’s history HERE.