A Parade and a Pandemic


Photo courtesy of Nola.com

COVID-19 caused major changes in the past few months alone. This year, instead of the normal Mardi Gras parades, parties, and masquerade balls, people celebrated the 164 year old tradition with a COVID friendly twist. Although it did not look the same as previous years it prevented people from possibly contracting COVID-19.

Ren Lloyd, Reporter

New Orleans looked different this year during Mardi Gras season. Typically, people gather from all walks of life every year to see the majestic floats pass by in a celebratory event that lasts from January 6th to February 16th. This year they put a slight twist on the tradition. Instead of hosting the parade with marching bands and moving floats, people drove past the floats in their cars. 

Before the coronavirus, people gathered shoulder to shoulder with strangers on Bourbon Street to watch glorious floats pass by, eat great food, and listen to music. The people on the floats threw all sorts of knick-knacks and everyone made an effort to catch one. Thousands of people looked forward to the magic of Mardi Gras each February. 

This year, people did not get the opportunity to enjoy the normal Mardi Gras festivities. Instead, people viewed the floats “quarantine style” where they drove past the floats from the comfort of their own cars at Floats in the Oaks in New Orleans City Park. Mayor LaToya Cantrell blocked off Bourbon Street to automobile and foot traffic with access limited to residents, business managers and employees, hotel guests and restaurant patrons. Usually during Mardi Gras season people pile into hotels and pour into streets, but this year hotels only reached up to one-third occupancy.

“Unfortunately, there was no Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year. The city shut down for 5 days leading up to Fat Tuesday.  No floats rolled, no bands marched, no families and friends gathered for great food and fun festivities, even many restaurants were closed for that period. NOLA streets were barricaded to keep people away.  It made me sad because it is such a big part of the culture and economy of New Orleans. So yes, it was Covid friendly, and I understand it had to be that way. Contrary to what most people believe, 95 percent of Mardi Gras is family friendly,” said Magnet Front Office Advisor Ann Ellis. 

Although Mardi Gras this year looked much different than previous years, it potentially saved thousands of lives and prevented thousands more from contracting COVID-19. If parades did take place, cases in New Orleans would skyrocket. If everyone obeys the CDC COVID-19 guidelines, perhaps next year Mardi Gras will look a bit more normal.