Mardi Gras is essentially cancelled this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But you can’t keep a good city down – and New Orleans is a great city. City Park will be hosting a drive-thru parade called Floats in the Oaks with floats parked on one side of the road and bands and dance krewes on the other. I’ll be dancing in a pink wig and corset along with my Pussyfooters sisters! Parade-goers are encouraged to costume in their cars so I’m hoping it’ll be a little reminder of the fun things we usually see while dancing past the miles and miles of crowds.
Lately, the entire city is becoming a drive-thru parade. Krewe of House Floats, a grassroots effort to give neighbors a safe, socially distanced parade experience, encouraged people to use local businesses and artists to help decorate their places as house floats. People were also invited to share their location on a map – which was just released. There are literally thousands of homes in the city participating. Across the lake, hundreds more have joined the fun. There are house floats in Los Angeles, Seattle, Michigan, Abu Dhabi, London, Australia and more. The phenomenon has been dubbed “Yardi Gras” and it’s too marvelous to only do once. I suspect some will carry the tradition forward.
It’s hard to describe how devastating it is to miss Carnival this year. Many of us have endured more than our usual share of problems and losses lately and really need a way to celebrate our city and our spirit while blowing off some steam. Seeing everyone’s creativity and celebratory spirit displayed in familiar themes reminds us to enjoy what we have and party in place.
It was uplifting when I saw my first couple of house floats. I think I even squealed and clapped my hands. We’d seen dozens by the time we ran into the ones I shared from last weekend’s Krewe du Vieux parade-in-place. I’ve taken photos of so many house floats now that it was hard to figure out how to organize them – so I’m trying to group them like I walk them. I’ve always enjoyed walking Magazine St. as it passes from beautiful homes with inviting porches to local retail shops and restaurants, then back to homes again – on and on. Most of the homes and business shown below are on Magazine St., with a few being within a block or so away.
Eventually, we’ll have to get into the car and drive further around the city, and even across the river to Algiers where dozens of homes are participating. I found the drive to Metairie well worth it to see the home of Professor Carl Nivale and Grand Marshal Marty Graw celebrating Professor Carl Nivale’s 25th anniversary – so I’ve included photos of their house float as well.