They can’t have a parade, but they can still celebrate.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already put the preemptive kibosh on most of the year’s major social events, and unfortunately, Mardi Gras is no exception. Last year’s Mardi Gras happened right before the pandemic started in earnest in the United States, inadvertently becoming one of the country’s first super-spreader events. This year, there will most definitely be no parades, and by extension no parade floats, which means New Orleans residents have a lot of leftover materials. Well, if they can’t have a parade in the streets, they can still have one at home.
New Orleans resident Megan Boudreaux was down in the dumps when she got the word that there would be no parades. With nowhere to direct her need for creativity, she publicly floated an alternative on her Twitter.
“I decided, ‘Well, okay then, I’m going to decorate my house instead, pull some beads out of the attic and throw them at the neighbors,” she said.
She mirrored her announcement on Facebook, and soon she received a massive influx of New Orleans followers eager to follow her example. “Everyone loved the idea and wanted to jump in to make their own house floats,” she said. “A shop owner decided to call her theme Yardi Gras, and it just exploded from there.”
The preparations began several months ago, and now, with Mardis Gras proper around the corner, residents have already begun assembling their “Yardi Gras” displays. Over 3,000 homes around the city will be participating, and the organizers have created an online map that will allow interested onlookers to drive by and get a look at all of it.
Most of the traditional Mardi Gras activities in New Orleans are canceled—but locals have kept the spirit of Carnival alive by decorating hundreds of houses in the style of Mardi Gras floats. Images of "Yardi Gras," via @TheAtlPhoto: https://t.co/nEUAJtHz1T pic.twitter.com/mcO4WiZX2I
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) February 10, 2021
“We have an attic filled with Mardi Gras ‘throws’ that we’ve collected over the years,” French Quarter resident Terri Bird said. “This is the perfect excuse to use them. I even have some blowup guitars to throw to people who are really dressed up in the spirit of Mardi Gras.”
“It’s been really uplifting to see how many people are cheering us on,” Old Aurora resident Meghan Davis said. “Next year, I hope to be back to body painting, but this is a great way to celebrate without pouring our energy into the usual parades and marathon drinking.”