House floats offer safe taste of Mardi Gras

Meredith Abdelnour, Arcade Editor

house float with bees and flowers
One Mardi Gras house float features an array of flowers and bees. (Emma Vaughters)

Mardi Gras 2021 will look a little different than years past due to strict COVID-19 restrictions. New Orleans is currently in a modified Phase One to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, which means that there will be none of the usual crowded parades, lively parties or packed bars this year. 

Although these restrictions will prevent a typical Mardi Gras, some residents have found another way to celebrate. Many New Orleans residents have decorated their homes as floats with colorful and unique art and decorations. One house features a “Jeopardy!” board, while another has paintings in the style of Vincent van Gogh. Houses have costumed skeletons, giant flowers and lifelike shark statues. One house reminds passersby of the token delicacy of the holiday, with a sign saying “You can’t cancel king cake.” 

The Krewe of House Floats, a socially-distant Mardi Gras krewe, was formed to keep the spirit of Mardi Gras alive while staying safe during the pandemic. The krewe consists of 40 subkrewes throughout New Orleans and even beyond, including a subkrewe for greater Louisiana and former New Orleans residents who live in other states but still want to decorate in the spirit of the holiday. 

The Krewe of Red Beans has a project called “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist,” which enlists local artists and craftsmen to decorate houses. The design of the house float is conceptualized in collaboration between the artists and homeowner. The first house unveiled by the project is located on Toledano Street and is titled “The Night Tripper” in honor of musician Dr. John. 

The house floats are offering a moment of joy for many residents, bringing a taste of the lively Mardi Gras holiday to an otherwise dreary time. House floats not only brighten up neighborhoods, but they also support local artists, float-builders and businesses, who are dealing with unemployment during one of the typically busiest times of the year. 

Nola.com is also hosting “Mardi Gras for All Y’all,” a virtual event featuring musical performances, celebrity appearances and content showing the history of Carnival season. 

New Orleans residents are welcome to follow a map of decorated houses around town, while making sure to wear a mask, staying six feet from others and avoiding large crowds.