Mardi Gras just won’t feel like Mardi Gras without parades, parties, floats, flowers, beads and bands filling the French Quarter’s streets, but New Orleans insists there will still be a celebration even though the city banned parades for the 2021 season.
“Mardi Gras is different not cancelled,” New Orleans’ city Twitter account posted with the explanation, “Mardi Gras is more than just king cakes and beads, it is a religious holiday. A season of traditions that we celebrate every year, a time that the community comes together in formal, fun, and often unexpected ways.”
This marks the first time in 42 years that Mardi Gras parades will not be part of the festivities because it would be a potential super-spreader event. About 1.5 million people normally attend Mardi Gras festivities, but outdoor gatherings are currently limited to 250 people.
“I don’t think this should be a surprise to anyone,” New Orleans spokesperson Beau Tidwell said at a press conference. “So while we certainly want to move forward and find ways that we can celebrate, and we can mark this occasion, we have to do it safely. We have … 10 more deaths in the last two weeks. The positivity rate doubled in the last week.”
Carnival krewes were surprised after having Mardi Gras Advisory Committee talks about parade adjustments, such as social distancing and temperature checks on the floats.“It’s a total shock at this moment,” Endymion president Dan Kelly told nola.com.
It could be a severe hit to the New Orleans economy with WalletHub estimating that Mardi Gras season has a $1 billion economic impact on the area.
The seas of humanity may still turn out in February but the city will be asking revelers to wear masks and socially distance. At Mardi Gras, the mask is never a problem. But distance has never been Bourbon Street’s thing.