New Orleans ‘House Floats’ Celebrate Mardi Gras As Parades Are Cancelled Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Mardi Gras House Float

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Mardi Gras looks different this year, defined by a pandemic. As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to keep large crowds from gathering, New Orleans bars are closed and parades are cancelled for the Fat Tuesday celebration. During a time when the city is typically packed with over a million Hurricane and Hand Grenade-fueled visitors, the French Quarter is reserved for locals, Bourbon Street is eerily empty and parade routes are just streets.

The season of Carnival is subdued, but that didn’t keep the Big Easy from going all out. New Orleanians live year-round for the two weeks prior to Lent and they’ve adapted to the times. Instead of elaborate parade floats and more than 100,000 pounds of beads, residents are transforming their homes into masterpieces. They’re calling them “House Floats” as they celebrate “Yardi Gras,” a yard-focused take on the holiday. The artists who typically design and decorate the floats, which can take up to a year to execute, have pivoted their direction toward making the city feel as “normal” as they can.

House Floats started popping up around the Crescent City in late January and it has taken off since. Whether they are decorated by the professionals or done by hand, the results have been incredible. As it would be in a normal year, the city is draped in purple, green and gold, alongside some pretty impressive all-out displays.

Music, food and culture are the things that New Orleans does best, and its doing an amazing job of keeping the spirit alive during the holiday. Laissez les bons temps rouler!