After pandemic cancelled New Orleans’ Mardi Gras parades, thousands are making ‘house floats’

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You just can’t keep a good city down, especially when Mardi Gras is coming.

All around New Orleans, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the elaborate parades normally held during the Carnival season leading to Fat Tuesday have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

The “house float” movement started almost as soon as a New Orleans spokesman announced Nov. 17 that parades were off. That morning, Megan Joy Boudreaux posted what she later called a silly Twitter joke: “We’re doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbours walking by.”

But the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. She started a Facebook group, the Krewe of House Floats, expecting a few friends and neighbours to join. The numbers rose. Thirty-nine subgroups evolved to discuss neighborhood plans.

By Carnival season’s official start Jan. 6, the group had more than 9,000 members, including out-of-state “expats.” About 3,000, including a few as far afield as England and Australia, will have their houses on an official online map, said Charlotte “Charlie” Jallans-Daly, one of two map-makers.

Ahead of Fat Tuesday on Feb. 16, here’s a look at some of the eye-popping displays.

Worlds of fantasy

Charlotte “Charlie” Jallans-Daly, right, and her wife, Sharon Jallans-Daly, pose for a picture behind giant ruby slippers that are part of the Wizard of Oz “house float” decorations in New Orleans. 

(Janet McConnaughey/The Associated Press)

Thom Karamus shows his papier mâché head of the hookah-smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.

(Janet McConnaughey/The Associated Press)

Going wild

Passersby look at dinosaurs roaming a mansion. The banner says: “Thank you, Mayor, for keeping us safe.” 

(Janet McConnaughey/The Associated Press)

A top-hatted dinosaur is among the Mardi Gras decorations in this yard.

(Janet McConnaughey/The Associated Press)

Parade float workers Travis Keene, left, and Joey Mercer position a pelican while fellow crew member Chelsea Kamm, right, looks on while decorating a house.

(Janet McConnaughey/The Associated Press)

Exotic escapes

Carley Sercovich hot-glues an addition to a coral reef of boxes and spray foam at the foot of her front steps in the Algiers Point neighbourhood.

(Janet McConnaughey/The Associated Press)

Foam balls studded with golf tees stand in for coronaviruses at this “house float” in the Algiers Point neighbourhood.

(Janet McConnaughey/The Associated Press)

Creating jobs

Because the coronavirus pandemic is causing widespread unemployment for Mardi Gras float painters, makers and designers, the Krewe of Red Beans walking club started an initiative to put these artisans to work decorating houses for Mardi Gras.

(Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate/The Associated Press)

Float builder, artist and parade designer Caroline Thomas walks out the front door of House #1 entitled “The Night Tripper,” produced by the Krewe of Red Beans’ “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” program.

(Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate/The Associated Press)

A couple of snakes are seen across the top of “The Night Tripper.” The “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” crowdfunded lotteries collected enough money to put crews to work decorating about 13 houses and seven businesses.

(Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate/The Associated Press)



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