When New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced last November that 2021 Mardi Gras parades were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan Boudreaux almost immediately joked on Twitter that people should turn their houses into floats and throw beads into the streets.
After thinking more about it, however, Boudreaux liked the idea of decorating houses to look like floats in the annual parades leading up to Fat Tuesday, which is February 16 this year. She started a Facebook page and website for the “Krewe of House Floats,” (KoHF) expecting a few friends and neighbors to join.
“I know a lot of folks are sad and disappointed that Mardi Gras cannot be normal this year, but I am hoping that Krewe of House Floats can be a way for folks to channel their creative energy, make something positive out of a bad situation, and have something to look forward to in 2021,” Boudreaux, who is KoHF “admiral,” wrote on the website. “This is really about coming up with creative ways to celebrate carnival that keep everyone safe until we can get through to the other side of this pandemic.”
An Unexpected Level Of Interest
After Boudreaux posted her plan on Facebook, interest immediately surged. As more people joined the group, they began having discussions about how to decorate a house, possible neighborhood themes, and other ideas for the altered festivities.
The house floats initiative also inspired artist Caroline Thomas, who designs floats for Krewe of Proteus and Krewe of Rex, to launch Hire a Mardi Gras Artist. The organization’s goal is to support (and hire) carnival artists so they can still bring Mardi Gras to New Orleans neighborhoods -- even if there isn’t a parade.
As of late January, Hire a Mardi Gras Artist had raised enough money to hire crews to decorate 11 houses and had commissioned work at two additional houses and seven businesses, NBC 7 San Diego reported.
“We’ve put about 40 people to work, which is nice,” said Devin DeWulf, who also started two pandemic-related charities as head of the Krewe of Red Beans.
A “Fleet” Of House Floats
It’s not just interest in the house float idea that grew -- so did participation. And with participation came subsequent crowds.
“Since some of these incredible installations are already starting to cause traffic jams, this seems like a good time to remind folks not to crowd!” Boudreaux wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “Take your photo, catch your throw, and move along for the next visitors to enjoy! All of us who have decorated will need to be mindful of making sure that folks don't linger. After all, a stalled parade gets boring after the initial dump of throws anyway! Keep it rolling!”
How To See The House Floats
To everyone’s surprise, in two and a half months, the all-volunteer krewe has grown to 3,000 participating houses -- with no budget, KoHF explains. Some of the houses were even done by expats who live as far away as Abu Dhabi and Australia.
Actually finding all of the house floats, though, was a challenge -- until now. Earlier this week, the Krewe of House Floats published a map of the house floats, which includes the house float name, its address, and even the best time to view it. Some of the entries also include a picture of the house so you know which house to keep an eye out for.
If you’re looking at the house floats in-person, remember to maintain social distancing so everyone stays safe.
And remember, “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”